In June the National Safety Council (NSC) introduced its “Death by Cellphone” billboard, a stark warning to passing drivers about the dangers of cell phone distractions. Solid research by psychologists, ergonomists and other specialists shows that lives are at risk when drivers are using cell phones to chat or send text messages. Aimed at drivers on or off the job, the billboard shifts the NSC campaign into high gear.
It features a woman and an unrelated 12-year-old boy who were killed in car crashes caused by drivers using cell phones. On the billboard, the woman’s daughter describes her mother’s fatal accident as “death by cellphone.”
A study from the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis estimates that cell phone use while driving contributes to 6 percent of crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. The study also put the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.
The billboard and NSC website, http://distracteddriving.nsc.org, are key elements in the organization’s outreach campaign. A non-profit membership-based entity that describes its mission as saving lives “by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads,“ the NSC is the first organization to call for a nationwide ban on all forms of cell phone use while driving. It cites research that shows hands-free devices do not cut the accident risk. It is asking governors and legislators in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass laws banning the practice, and is encouraging businesses to enact policies against it.
The NSC notes that a significant amount of vehicular cell phone use is done on the job. According to the organization, many businesses are aware of the cost in lives and dollars and have banned cell phone use by employees on the road. On its website the NSC recently congratulated ExxonMobil for five years of safety leadership in enacting a ban on cell phone use by employees while driving on company business.
“Studies show that driving while talking on a cell phone is extremely dangerous and puts drivers at a four times greater risk of a crash,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of NSC. “Driving drunk is also dangerous and against the law. When our friends have been drinking, we take the car keys away. It’s time to take the cell phone away.”
Source: National Safety Council