Cell Phone Use, Texting More Likely To Cause Accidents Than Other Forms Of Distracted Driving
September 20, 2012

Cell Phone Use, Texting More Likely To Cause Accidents Than Other Forms Of Distracted Driving

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Texting and driving is a serious topic and a serious problem not only in America, but all over the developed world. In fact, according to Distraction.gov, a government website dedicated to stamping out distracted driving, drivers who carry cell phones with them in the car are four times more likely to get into an accident and cause serious injury to themselves or others. Already more prone to be involved in or cause an accident, should these drivers begin texting, their collisions will be up to 23% worse than if they hadn´t been texting.

AT&T has been an outspoken supporter of hanging up while driving, creating campaigns urging drivers to keep their thumbs off their devices while driving as well as writing apps for smartphones to encourage safer driving. This app, sadly, isn´t available for Apple´s iPhone, one of AT&T´s best selling phones, though there are similar apps in the App Store.

Yesterday, AT&T´s chief executive Randall L. Stephenson spoke out against texting and driving at a conference in front of other Fortune 500 executives in San Francisco.

According to the New York Times, Stephenson gave an interview a few years back which could explain his company´s ardent fervor in speaking out against distracted driving.

Someone close to Stephenson was texting while driving years ago, causing a distracted driving accident. The more he began to speak out against this topic, said Stephenson, the more letters he received from those who had also been either the cause or the victim of such an accident.

Smartphones are great, but they´re “being used inappropriately,” says Stephenson. “We have got to drive behavior.”

A large part of AT&T´s efforts to quell distracted driving is their “It Can Wait” campaign, complete with a Web site where interested parties can learn more about distracted driving, hear stories from those families affected by distracted driving, download the AT&T Drive Mode apps and even sign a pledge, committing to never text and drive.

So far, safety advocates are saying they´re pleased with AT&T´s efforts to attack distracted driving, comparing this relatively successful public campaign to other, less-than-successful public campaigns against drunk driving or proper seat belt use.

“AT&T in particular has invested quite a bit in messaging and I´m hopeful it will make consumers aware,” said chief safety officer at Nationwide Insurance Bill Windsor, speaking to the New York Times. “It certainly can´t hurt, but law enforcement is the other step that´s needed to curb behavior.”

While some organizations are hoping AT&T would become more involved on the legislative side of things to place more bans and laws against distracted driving, Stephenson says he prefers a market-driven approach to curbing this distracted behavior as opposed to legislative ones. While AT&T is taking the fight to the people with campaigns and apps, Verizon Wireless is working behind the scenes to drive legislation in Washington and has also been praised by safety advocates.

As it stands, there are 39 states which have placed a ban on distracted driving, which can pose an even greater threat than someone driving with a blood alcohol level of .08.

Though Stephenson prefers a market-driven solution, he´s not opposed to working with government agencies to fix this problem. Shortly after giving his speech in San Francisco, he hopped a plane to DC where he appeared at an event with the chairman of the FCC as well as the secretary of Transportation to speak out against the “epidemic” of distracted driving.

AT&T will also offer a new, revised version of their DriveMode app for Android and BlackBerry phones for free on September 30. The DriveMode app automatically disables texting when the phone is traveling faster than 25 Miles per hour.