Distracted driving caused 3,328 deaths, in 2012, and many of these deaths were related to the use of handheld devices. Texting is often to blame, as it makes drivers an astounding 23 times more likely to crash. But is it possible that talking and driving could be just as dangerous?
The Risks of Talking While Driving
There are three types of distractions hat can cause accidents. Manual distractions occur when drivers don’t keep their hands on the wheel. Visual distractions occur when drivers take their eyes off the road. A cognitive distraction occurs when a driver’s attention is focused on something other than driving.
When talking on a cell phone, the biggest risk is cognitive distraction, especially in cases where the user is using a hands-free device. How risky is cognitive distraction?
In a recent study by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, researchers found that drivers were seven times more likely to crash when reaching for their cell phone, and four times more likely to crash when talking on their cell phone.
An Opposing Viewpoint
In the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, those numbers were averaged among all age groups. When broken down, there was little to no increased risk for older drivers who were more experienced behind the wheel. For novice drivers, the cognitive distraction while driving was a significant issue.
During the study, the only risk of cell phone use for experienced drivers occurred when drivers were dialing or reaching for their phones.
Only 12 states ban the use of cell phones while driving. Forty-four states ban texting and driving.
Cell Phone Use In Florida
On October 1, 2013, the state of Florida banned texting while the vehicle is in motion, but it allows users to text while stopped or at traffic lights. However, Florida permits talking on handheld or hands-free devices while driving.
In 2012, about 4,500 accidents in Florida were blamed on distractions related to people using electronic devices. About 255 of those accidents were directly attributed to texting and driving.
Although texting while driving may pose a greater risk because it diverts a driver’s eyes from the road longer, any cognitive distraction that takes a driver’s attention off the task of driving may lead to an accident.