Hanging Up the Telephone

8 Mar

Chapel Hill, NC, yesterday became the first town in the nation to ban the use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving. No talking, no texting, no Siri, no web-browsing. The controversial ordinance will go into effect June 1. So, as happy as I am that you’re reading our At Home in the Carolinas blog, I do hope you’re not trying to read it while driving…and certainly not in Chapel Hill!

The statistics are alarming. A staggering 81% of drivers in the United States admit to checking e-mail or texting while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Nearly 100% say they frequently talk on their cell phones while driving. Yet, the dangers of distracted driving are well-established. Research shows that simply having a conversation on your cell phone while driving is a cognitive distraction that causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that could prevent an accident. If you are writing or reading text messages or e-mails while driving, your reaction time in case of emergency reduces by approximately 35%. In fact, any kind of cell phone use contributes to 18% of distraction-related fatalities in the United States.

Other research is even more disturbing: Texting while driving is riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana. Pecking out a message or reading an e-mail while driving distracts the driver for five seconds on average…and five seconds while driving on a highway equals over 100 yards of dangerous pavement!

I have a teenage driver…so I’m alarmed when I read that 50% of teenagers admit to texting while driving! I also know that many REALTORS® are guilty of this practice, too. Shame on us.

The NC Text Messaging While Driving Ban went into effect over two years ago. The ban applies to all “additional technology associated with a mobile phone,” including E-mail, the Internet, and games. The new Chapel Hill ordinance takes the NC law one step further…banning even hand-held or hands-free cell phone conversations with exceptions for emergency calls, and calls with a spouse, parent or child. The fine is $25 for violators within Chapel Hill town limits.

Maybe it’s time to put down the mobile device and drive.

By the way…if you think you can multi-task while behind the wheel, try this interactive game. Click here.

By Tom Gongaware (General Sales Manager, Triangle Region)

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