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Talking on a Cell Phone While Driving as Dangerous as Driving Drunk?

Talking on the phone while driving is considered “distracted driving” and, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, causes more accidents than drunk driving each year. It may seem harmless, but it can be just as dangerous. Distracted driving is a serious issue that affects everyone on the road.

Is it Bad to Talk on The Phone While Driving in Wisconsin?

While there are driving laws against texting, there is no law against the specific action of talking on the phone while driving. Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on our nation’s roads. In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There are three main types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Driving and talking on the phone: A multi-threat distraction.

You may be asking yourself, “So, what kind of distraction does using a cell phone while driving create?”, and while many feel that it is considered a cognitive distraction, talking on the phone while driving actually falls into all three categories. When you’re talking on the phone, you’re not looking at the road; you’re not using your hands to drive; and your brain is not fully focused on the task of driving.

Cell phones have become such an ingrained part of our lives that it can be hard to remember how to function without them. But when you get behind the wheel of a car, it’s important to put your phone away and focus on the task at hand: driving. 

What Are The Risks of Talking On A Cell Phone While Driving?

We’ve all been there – stuck in traffic, running late for an appointment, and our phones start ringing. It’s tempting to answer, but we know we shouldn’t because it’s dangerous to talk on the phone while driving. Unfortunately, many people do answer their phones while behind the wheel, putting themselves and others at risk.

There are a few reasons why talking on the phone while driving is so risky. First of all, it takes your attention away from the road. You’re not focused on what’s in front of you, and you could easily miss something important. Secondly, it can be distracting. Even if you’re not looking at your phone, you’re still thinking about the conversation you’re having, and that can take your mind off of driving. It can be dangerous if you need to look at your phone to find a number or end a call. If you take your eyes off the road even for a few seconds, you could cause an accident.

Cellular Phone Accidents Can Be Prevented

The effects of talking while driving include harm to others, so next time your phone rings while you’re driving, resist the urge to answer it. It’s not worth risking your safety – or the safety of others – just to chat on the phone for a few minutes. This may even include talking to a passenger in the car. 

Additionally, while driving you should resist distractions such as taking a phone call from your cellphone or smart watch and checking your phone or watch to see who called. 

Remember that in addition to being distracting, talking on the phone while driving is a safety hazard to yourself and your loved ones. When you are driving your vehicle, if your cell phone rings, you should ignore the call until you can pull over safely and answer the one in a secure location. 

Studies & Facts On The Effects of Talking On the Phone While Driving

  • According to a highly-publicized 2003 study from the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis, cell phone distractions cause an estimated 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents. The National Safety Council recently updated the Harvard numbers, estimating that 28 percent of all road accidents are attributable to cell phone use each year, or 1.4 million crashes. 
  • Drivers on the phone are four times more likely to crash. You drive like you are legally drunk (blood alcohol level of .08) while on a cell phone. Hands-free devices don’t solve the problem because the real danger is concentrating on the cell phone conversation. 
  • Using a cell phone while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2020.
  • Most Americans aren’t hitting the off button when they jump in the car. Millions of people continue to talk and drive, an estimated 81 percent of all cell phone owners according to Nationwide Insurance. 
  • At any time during the day, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) found that 11 percent of all drivers are yakking away!
  • Some people simply question the statistical link between cell phones and accidents. In a 2008 report from the NHSA titled Driver Distraction: A Review of the Current State of Knowledge, the agency said: “While the use of cellular phones poses a significant and increasing risk to roadway safety, studies show that it represents a relatively small proportion of a bigger distraction problem.”
  • A study released by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that the number of traffic crashes did not drop in three states and the District of Columbia after handheld cell phones were banned. The association “urges states to pass texting bans but hold off on addressing other cell use until some clarity is achieved.”
  • It is illegal in Wisconsin for school bus drivers to use their cell phones for any reason while driving children to school.

Media Attention Around Cell Phone Use Behind The Wheel

Heavy local and national media coverage is heightening concern. For example, Oprah Winfrey asked her viewers to make their cars a “No Phone Zone.” The National Safety Council also launched the Death By Cell Phone campaign, pushing for a ban in all 50 states. Here, you can see a full list of distracted driving laws by state.

The consequences of distracted driving can be severe. In addition to the risk of causing an accident, distracted drivers are more likely to get into accidents that are serious or fatal. They are also more likely to receive traffic tickets and be involved in insurance claims. The financial cost of distracted driving can be significant, as well; insurance rates may increase after an accident, and repairs or replacements for damaged property can be expensive.

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