Drivers in California and around the country are more likely to put their phones down and focus on the road ahead if somebody they care about tells them that their behavior is placing other road users in danger. This was something that Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) researchers learned when they asked 2,000 American drivers about cellphone use behind the wheel. After processing the results of the survey, the IIHS recommended adding public information campaigns to efforts to curb distracted driving.
Friends and relatives
The results of a recent Travelers Insurance survey support this argument. Most of the drivers polled said that they would stop using their cellphones if a passenger asked them to, but few of them heed these requests unless the passenger is a close friend or relative. More than 40% of the respondents said they would speak up if a friend or family member used a cellphone while driving, but only 11% said they would voice concerns if a co-worker used a mobile device.
Cellphone bans are ineffective
Public information campaigns that encourage people to warn their friends and relatives about the dangers of distracted driving may be the best way to tackle the problem because cellphone bans and harsh penalties for violating them do not seem to be working. Most of the IIHS survey respondents admitted to using their cellphones on almost every trip, and 19% of the drivers polled by Travelers Insurance said they used their phones to shop for products online. The problem is a serious one because almost 10% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities are distraction-related according to official statistics. Many road safety experts think the true death toll is much higher.
Avoiding distracted drivers
Distraction is so dangerous because drivers who are not paying attention do not brake or take evasive action and often crash at high speeds. If you want to avoid becoming a distracted driving victim, you should maintain a safe distance at all times and watch for telltale signs of inattention. These signs include weaving between lanes, frequent slowing down and speeding up and sudden braking.