Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
7/2/2010
03:27 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Cell Phones Still Driving Us To Distraction

Nearly 40% of Americans claim they've been hit or almost hit by some one driving while distracted by their cell phone. That means too many people aren't getting the message.

Driving while distracted -- by anything -- is dangerous. According to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, 38% of drivers say they've been hit or almost hit due to others who won't get off their cell phones while driving.

The same poll also shows that 40% of drivers admit to using their phones -- whether it be to check email, Facebook, GPS, or send text messages -- while driving. "The number of Americans who multi-task by using a mobile application while driving becomes more troubling as the market for feature phones and applications steadily grows," said Bill Windsor, Nationwide's associate vice president for Consumer Safety. "This summer alone, a multitude of new generation cell phones – including the new iPhone – will hit the market offering more features to multi-task on the go."

It was bad enough when all we could do was talk on the phone while driving. Now phones can do so much, they have a lot of ways to distract drivers. Nationwide blames social networking for some of the increase in phone use while in the car.

"Many of the 500 million Facebook users have an app on their phone so they can read and post messages when they're away from their computer," Windsor added. "Social networking has become an obsession for many people, but it's critical that people not try to do it while driving. No post or tweet is so important it's worth losing your life over."

I've had to school myself not to use my phone when driving. I used to check it all the time when in the car to see if a new SMS or email had arrived, etc. Now I put the phone in the cup holder and only answer important calls if I have a Bluetooth headset connected. It wasn't easy. It's a tough temptation to overcome. It takes effort to leave the phone alone when behind the wheel.

Phones aren't the only distraction. Cars are being built with more entertainment options to keep occupants occupied when in transit. Too often, those entertainment systems are being accessed and used by drivers. Nationwide says 82% of drivers are prone to use tech in the car to search for music, 91% use GPS while driving, and 68% still make phone calls.

That's too many.

If you plan to take to the road this holiday weekend, please leave the tech alone when driving. Have your passengers map out the route, answer the phone, pick the music, and send the SMS/email messages. Just worry about the road in front of you, and the other drivers around you. Chances are, they will be distracted. Will you?

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