Picture this: You are on a busy highway rolling along at 55 miles per hour, and your phone chimes. It is a text message. You take your eyes off the road for five seconds to read the text. Your vehicle travels the length of a football field before you glance up and see a red tail light inches from your bumper.
Nothing can prevent you from reading the text, or looking down to pick up the phone, turn the dial of a radio or reach for something in the seat next to you – except you.
In 2012 an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver; this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011, according to U.S. government data.
The National Safety Council estimates that one in four accidents could have been prevented had the vehicle drivers not been using cell phones.
While some states have passed laws banning hand-held cell phones in vehicles, the fact is people are not focusing all of their attention on driving when they are using a cell phone.
There is a common misconception that people can multi-task. Human brains can juggle tasks rapidly – switching attention between tasks – but the brain cannot perform two tasks at the same time. The human brain takes six steps to deal with the information it receives. When the brain is distracted during a step, such as driving and talking on a phone, the brain shifts focus, reaction time is decreased, and driving risks increase. Combine driving while holding a phone and single-finger texting, and the risk of an accident increases significantly.
When the brain is experiencing an increased workload, information processing slows and a driver is much less likely to respond to unexpected hazards in time to avoid a crash. A recent university study used MRI pictures of the brains of people driving in a simulator while listening to spoken sentences on a cell phone and people who were just driving. The people listening to sentences on cell phones had a 37 percent decrease in brain activity in an area of the brain also associated with driving.
Estimates indicate drivers using cell phones look at but fail to see up to half of the information in their driving environment. Drivers using cell phones narrow their field of view instead of continually scanning the roadway ahead or behind them.
Neff Rental understands the hazards of texting and driving, and speaking on cell phones while driving. It is a company policy to only use cell phones while driving when necessary and, then, only with hands-free devices. Neff Rental does not permit texting while driving.