According to a study by research firm Expert Market, the top 10 states for fatal crashes caused by cell phones are:
- North Carolina
- New York
- South Carolina
The firm found that 12% of distracted driving fatalities are caused by cell phones. (The number one cause is being generally “lost in thought,” which accounts for 62% of cases).
However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that the number of cell phone accidents is underreported. That’s because a police officer needs to witness first-hand that the cell phone was in use by the at-fault driver. Only then can the officer affirm that the phone caused the accident.
In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned commercial drivers from using cell phones. The rule banned not only drivers transporting freight, but also bus drivers.
Companies face fines of up to $11,000 if one of their drivers is caught breaking the rule. The drivers themselves also face fines of up to $2,750, as well as disqualification.
The FMCSA does allow commercial drivers to use “hands-free phones in close proximity,” as long as the driver only has to press one button to make a call.
However, truck drivers (and regular motorists) should think long and hard about using a hand-free phone, even if doing so is legal in many jurisdictions.
Research shows that talking on a hands-free phone while driving is just as distracting as talking on a regular hand-held phone. That’s because even if drivers keep their eyes on the road, their attention is still divided between the call and their surroundings.
Study after study has shown that multitasking has a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to concentrate and perform any one task well. And that includes driving while carrying on a conversation via a hands-free phone.
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