While picking up my children I heard the school crossing guard shouting at a driver who almost hit her. The driver was distracted by his cell phone conversation. Think of a school crossing area – signs posted, crossing guard with a neon vest, lots of people, etc. The driver was so distracted by the cell phone conversation he didn’t notice the person in the neon vest holding a big stop sign. She’s not the first school crossing guard to face this situation. Check out this article by the Daily Herald (Chicago northwest suburbs).
Cell phone use while driving has become a serious public safety threat – for everyone on our roads.
Just the other day I was contacted by Jim O’Connor. Jim’s son, Patrick, was killed while riding his bike by a cell phone distracted driver. Remember Erica Forney? She was killed in her neighborhood while riding her bike home from school. The driver who killed Erica was also distracted by a cell phone. Matt Wilhelm is another innocent victim. The driver who killed him was downloading ring tones while driving.
Sadly, there are many more innocent victims. When is it going to end?
Many people still don’t understand why cell phone use is so dangerous while driving. I suggest we all send them the NSC white paper – Understanding the Distracted Brain. In it, NSC shares how divers “look at” but do not “see” up to 50% of their driving environment. 50 PERCENT! Drivers using cell phones are not processing half of the information in the driving environment.
Take a look. This is an example of what’s missing. (Used with permission from the National Safety Council.)
Vision is the most important sense while driving. When it’s impaired, so is safety.
Drivers using their cell phones are missing critical information such as red lights, stop signs, pedestrians and others on our roadways. Drivers might not see things directly in front of them. This issue is about more than hands on the wheel and eyes on the roads. If that were the case, perhaps those listed above would be alive.
Our brains are only capable of processing a certain amount of information when we are engaging in cognitively complex tasks. Our focus bounces back and forth from one task to the other. During this bouncing process is when that critical information mentioned above gets filtered out. The thing is, the switching between tasks happens so quickly that we don’t realize it. There is no perceived danger. Drivers using their cell phones don’t realize that they are missing information. They don’t realize the man riding his bike IS there.
So what do we do? We educate – anyone and everyone. Parents, teens, legislators, media – anyone who will listen. We share our stories….again and again. If you think stories don’t have power to change behaviors, I strongly disagree. I share the stories I hear from FocusDriven all the time with people I talk to at soccer fields, baseball fields, waiting for my kids to get out of school, everywhere. People listen. I ask those I meet to pay attention to the drivers who brake late, run stop signs, drive left of center and drivers who seem like they just aren’t paying attention. Then I ask how many of those drivers were using cell phones.
The time for change is now. We’ve experienced enough tragedies. Let’s honor those who have died by demanding change. Talk to everyone you know about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. Ask them to get involved on this issue. Let’s put an end to this threat to public safety!