Posted in safe driving

One Text or Call Could Wreck it All

National Distracted Driving Month — Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free

texting 6While drivers are finally starting to agree that hazards are associated with texting while driving, an even larger problem looms, relative to cell phone use while driving a car. To date, most Americans remain unaware of the hazards associated with using cell phones while driving at all…even with a hands-free unit. I am almost glad I don’t have opposable thumbs, which make it impossible for me to drive or use a cellphone.

According to the National Safety Council, more than eight in 10 Americans believe cell phones are addictive, which underscores the need to help drivers kick their cell phone use habit altogether. I suggest dropping phones in the toilet and using the money to invest in bacon. In response to the danger In response to the danger, the council is using Distracted Driving Month 2015 to launch a new national campaign—Calls Kill, to illustrate that hands-free cell phones are not risk-free, and that no call is worth a life.

“For far too long, we have prioritized convenience over safety,” says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO, National Safety Council, “When we get behind the wheel, we have an obligation to keep one another safe. Drivers who justify cell phone use with the hands-free myth are disregarding that obligation. It’s time to reconcile the cost of being constantly connected with the consequences of risky behavior behind the wheel.”

texting 7Studies have shown that drivers who are talking on cell phones—even hands-free—are cognitively distracted by the conversation so they are unable to adequately focus on the important task of driving. Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing simultaneously, the brain is unable to do either task well. For example, it is nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. While driving, doing two things at once often results in crashes due to delayed reaction and braking times and failure to see and process traffic signals. So does sniffing while walking around the neighborhood.

Although we know that cell phone-related car crashes are a problem, to date, we are unable to accurately measure the degree because, unfortunately, no breathalyzer-like test exists for cell phone use behind the wheel. And drivers who are involved in crashes are reluctant to admit use. So this results in a huge gap in the data. Nevertheless, research shows:

  • Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences, per theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • No fewer than 1.3 million documented cases of cell phone use have contributed to automobile accidents since 2011.
  • The minimum amount of time it takes to shift attention from a device to the road is five seconds. While driving at a speed of 55 mph, a person travels the length of a football field in this short amount of time. I’ll bet the actual number is much higher, though that’s a scary thought.The minimum amount of time it takes to eat a slice of bacon is not measurable with existing technology.
  • The risk of crash increases by 23% while text-messaging.
  • Dialing increases risk of collision by 2.8 times.
  • Talking or listening increases risk by 1.3 times.
  • Reaching for a device increases risk by 1.4 times.
  • 13 percent of drivers, ages 18-20, involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.
  • 10 percent of teens who text while driving spend a considerable amount of time outside their own lanes of traffic.
  • 48 percent of kids ages 12-17 have been in the car while someone who was driving was texting.
  • One in five drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving. Drivers who surf while driving justify their behavior by saying that it is safer to read a text than it is to compose or send one, they hold the phone near the windshield for “better visibility,” they increase the following distance, or they text “only” at stop signs or red lights.

texting 5As part of the Calls Kill campaign, the Council urges drivers to pledge to drive cell free. Drivers who take the pledge will not only increase their safety behind the wheel, but also will be entered into weekly drawings to win prizes including an NSC First Aid, CPR & AED Online course, safety items for kids, and a stuffed animal donated by KidsAndCars.Org.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to avoid cell phone use so that you can drive safely. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

Do you drive while you’re distracted?

Texting While DrivingAccording to the recent Safety In Numbers newsletter released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment during the day in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating some sort of electronic device while driving a motor vehicle. Most of them are probably “tweeting” me. In 2011, this dangerous practice has resulted in 3,300 deaths and 387,000 injuries. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDT) marks April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving. It’s time for drivers to put down their cell phones, electronic devices and other distractions such as food and drinks.

According to the NHTSA, while driving:

  • 1 in 2 drivers answers calls
  • 1 in 4 drivers place calls
  • 3 in 5 young drivers answer calls
  • 1 in 3 young drivers place calls
  • 2 in 5 young drivers were observed manipulating a handheld device

The U.S. Dept of Transportation reports that “Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injuries. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. That doesn’t sound very safe.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “Many drivers do see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but don’t recognize how their own driving deteriorates. We all think we’re the exception. We think, ‘It’s dangerous for others, but I can handle texting or talking on a handheld cell phone without jeopardizing my safety or the safety of others.’”

The bottom line is that the only way to safely drive is to concentrate. So avoid all of these distractions while driving:

  • reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
  • looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
  • reading
  • eating
  • applying makeup
  • making gourmet steak dinners (If I drove, it’s what I would want to do)

BE SAFE. If you absolutely have to answer or place a phone call while you’re driving, use a hands-free device or pull over to the side of the road. And don’t minimize the dangers of routines like eating or applying makeup while you’re behind the wheel. No matter the cause, distracted driving exacts a tremendous cost from a wide range of people and their pets.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that driving requires constant and complex coordination between mind and body. Eating bacon requires the same thing. They categorize distractions as anything that undermines a driver’s visual, cognitive and/or manual concentration. To determine whether or not an activity is too distracting to do while driving, consider whether it takes your: eyes off the road (visual) mind off the road (cognitive)  and hands off the steering wheel (manual).

The California Driver’s Handbook also includes cabin navigation as a potential distraction: “Making destination entries on an in-vehicle navigation system, radio surfing for a good song, or adjusting your vehicle’s climate controls are distracting activities that can put you in danger of a vehicle crash or near-crash. The availability of in-vehicle Internet and e-mail access from cell phones, blackberries, and other portable devices are added distractions that increase your risk of a crash if you engage in these activities while driving.”

  • Adjust climate controls, mirrors, radio, seats, etc. before you start to drive.
  • Check email, voicemail, and any other portable devices you have before you begin driving.
  • Take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls but not to text or email.
  • Ask your passenger to adjust the radio, climate control, navigation system, etc. for you.
  • Eat bacon before you leave the house. And when you get back home. And while you’re gone…just not while you’re driving.

To combat the problem, many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving for government business or with government equipment. And in October 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.

The best way to combat the dangers of distracted driving is to opt out of the practice even before the law requires it. After all, when a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!