Is It Dangerous to Drive While Talking On the Phone?

In Oregon, like many other states, it’s illegal to text, talk, or use a cell phone while driving. But many members of the motoring public would admit that they’ve done it anyway.

Some people routinely ignore the law and do what they find to be convenient. Other drivers try to be mindful of the rules of the road, but make exceptions based upon their circumstances. After all, most people have experienced hectic days that could include picking up kids, running errands, working, and attending to so many obligations that time starts to run short. A quick phone call from the car suddenly seems like a real time saver.

So, is it really any more dangerous to drive while talking on the phone? We’ll answer that question in this article.

Distracted Driving Has Long Been a Concern

In general terms, distracted driving is a major problem. Distracted driving refers to driving while engaged in another activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the task of driving. Distracted driving can result from anything, such as focusing on the radio, eating, or attending to a child.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,450 people died in 2016 as the result of distracted driving. In 2015, 391,000 people suffered injuries in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers. The NHTSA estimates that 481,000 drivers use their cell phones during daylight hours while driving.

The most common form of distracted driving, and the most dangerous, is texting. The dangers of texting while driving have been well documented. The NHTSA states that sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for five seconds. They further explain that at 55 miles per hour, this results in the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with one’s eyes closed. That’s scary.

But what about talking on the phone while driving? Is it dangerous?

Talking Is a Distraction

Many people believe that just talking on the phone, especially using hands-free devices, is not a real distraction. They compare it to talking to a passenger. Unfortunately, research doesn’t support their theory.

Researchers at the University of Calgary performed a study and analyzed almost 100 other studies dealing with driving and the use of cell phones. They reached some important conclusions, some of which are provided below:

  • Talking on a cell phone while driving is a behavior commonly identified as contributing to crashes.
  • A person is a worse driver when talking on the phone, even while using hands-free devices.
  • Talking on a phone is not the same as talking to a passenger – it’s more dangerous. That said, talking to a passenger can also be a dangerous distraction.
  • Drivers are more likely to speed when talking on the phone.

There’s really no debate – using cell phones while driving, whether talking or texting, makes the roads more dangerous for everyone. Perhaps that explains why so many states have made these activities illegal.

How to Protect Yourself

First and foremost, don’t use your phone while you drive, unless it’s an absolute emergency. It’s rare that a person can’t pull over and talk, or make a call or a text before or after driving.

If you see other drivers talking and texting, stay away and give them lots of room.

Finally, if you’re in an accident with a distracted driver, make a note of any witnesses who saw the driver texting or talking.

Call with Questions

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver and have questions about your rights, give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer them. We know that holding negligent drivers accountable for driving while distracted will help protect all of society.

Additionally, the personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have experience investigating automobile and semi-truck crashes and proving that drivers were distracted when they caused the accident. We look forward to hearing from you.


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