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Hang Up and Drive

While on a recent trip out of town, I witnessed a young man plow his car into the back of a delivery truck.  The young man was gazing down at his mobile phone and failed to stop when the truck in front of him stopped for a school bus.  The airbag did its job and the driver appeared to be unscathed.  The passengers in the back seat of his car did not fair as well and both were taken away in an ambulance.

The technology exists to turn off a mobile phone if it is moving in a car.  The most dangerous thing the average American does in their day is travel in a car.  Mobile phone use makes car travel dramatically more dangerous.  Educational campaigns and fines have not reduced mobile phone use by drivers.  Many people will never be able to control their impulsive addiction to the mobile phone.  Locking out cell phones while the car is moving is the only answer.

Physical therapist clean up the physical damage created by drivers distracted by their cell phones.  Auto accidents often create pain and performance problems that never fully resolve.  Blocking the mobile phone while traveling in a car may have the unintended consequence of restoring the lost art of conversation–you remember talking, don’t you?  While cruising along on this brief bit of magic we call life, you do not want the final sound you hear to be the ring from your cell phone.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Texting And Driving=Drinking And Driving

A Video Everyone Needs To Watch

I get to meet people injured in car accidents nearly every day.  A car accident can change your life forever, so anything we can do to reduce the chance of a crash should be a top priority.  I suggest that anyone who uses a cell phone watch the video about texting and driving directed by Werner Herzog (available on Youtube).  Make your kids watch it with you.

The video, From One Second To The Next, was commissioned by cell phone carrier AT&T and released Aug. 7.  It has already amassed more than 3 million views. The makers are also planning to provide a twelve minute short version to government agencies, safety organizations, and schools.

In the video, you hear how an accident caused by a texting driver traumatizes four families from across the country.  The film was commissioned for an anti-texting and driving campaign also backed by Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (Learn more about the “It Can Wait’ campaign at www.itcanwait.com.)

University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer, who has conducted nationally recognized research on the effects of using cell phones while driving, said his studies show that texting while driving can result in an eight times greater chance of getting in an accident. In contrast, driving while legally under the influence of alcohol—a blood-alcohol level of .08 — results in a four-times greater chance of an accident.

38 states have outlawed texting while driving.  My question is why the other states have failed to outlaw this very dangerous activity.  Certainly the punishment for texting and driving should be equivalent to that of drunk driving.

Is there a technological solution to this dangerous telecommunication habit?  Automobiles are incredibly complex machines and it must be possible to design and install text blocking computers in a car.

Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS