By Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach
Car seats may be required but there's one other thing you should be doing to protect your children in the car, because the best-constructed car seat in the world doesn't insure they'll live through an accident.
Prevention is the best cure, and driver error has been documented to contribute to over 90% of collisions.
Your distractibility is crucial, and once again one of our new technological advances has proven to be a very mixed blessing. You might even say a very mixed curse.
And what is that?
It's the conversation you're having with your sister about the party next week. Or the quick call to verify directions or to say you're running late. Or worst of all, an intense or complex relationship issue you're discussing with your husband. ON THE CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING.
It doesn't matter whether it's hand-held or mounted, and it doesn't matter whether you're dialing, chatting, or intensely relating. It's dangerous.
According to the Fatal Analysis Reporting System, in one analysis of fatal accidents involving cell phone use, the cell phone-using drivers were all in what's called "the striking vehicle." This means they either hit a stationary object, or left their lane of traffic and struck a vehicle or obstacle. In these crashes, 75% of the drivers were engaged in conversation, 13% were dialing, and 13% were hanging up.
And worse yet - of those engaged in conversation, 1/3 were using mounted phones in the hands-free mode.
Risk of collision when using a cell is 4 times higher regardless of your age, driving experience, or experience with a cell phone, and - get this: the hands-free units offer no safety advantage.
People using cell phones simply take longer to react, and miss things that would allow them to avoid collisions. Even when not at-fault, cell users were unable to avoid collisions with others.
Your cell phone records can and will be subpoened in case of a lawsuit involving an accident, by the way.
So why not, when you strap the kids into their car seats, lay the cell phone down on the floor beside them and turn off the ringer?
Cell phones are great for productivity and personal safety. Just make sure you aren't using yours to call the EMS after a car accident caused by the fact you were using yours while driving.
P. S, And don't let the grandparents off the hook either. According to the National Public Services Research Institute for AAA, where cell phone use in the car is concerned, the distraction effect in drivers over the age of 50 is 2-3 times as great and encompasses all tasks - placing calls, simple conversations, and complex conversations. They increase response time by 33-38%.
With statistics like this, can legislation be far behind?
But do you need legislation to do what's right?
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