Distracted driving has emerged as a patient safety epidemic.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving is responsible for about 16 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. – which translates into some 5,000 deaths per year.
Meanwhile, a 2014 National Safety Council (NSC) report concluded that mobile phone use caused 26 percent of car accidents in the U.S. It also found that “just five percent of mobile phone-related accidents in the U.S. involved texting,” while stressing that, “The majority of the accidents involve drivers distracted while talking on cell phones.”
The ‘End Distracted Driving’ campaign says that, “There is clear evidence that talking on a hands-free device is distracting and reduces the driver’s ability to react. There are some mixed studies that show hands free use of phones, including voice to text, is just as dangerous as holding a device. Also, there are studies that show the laws do not work without strong enforcement and public awareness campaigns.”
And NSC, reports that, “In states with hand held device bans, the crash death rates were reduced from 11.8 deaths per 100,000 to 7.3 per 100,000.”
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from driving, including texting, using a cell phone or smartphone, eating and drinking, grooming, reading, looking at maps, using a navigation system, and adjusting the radio.
In 2016, the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) House of Delegates passed a resolution that calls for MAG to promote legislation that would require drivers who make phone calls while operating a motor vehicle to do so on a hands-free basis.
In 2017, MAG supported a bill that Rep. Betty Price, M.D., introduced that would have prohibited drivers in the state from using hand-held cell phones while driving – legislation that has passed in other 14 states. (It is also worth noting that Georgia is one of 46 states that have enacted bans on texting while driving.)
While Dr. Price’s bill did not pass in 2017, lawmakers did pass a measure (H.R. 282) by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) that will lead to the formation of a House study committee on distracted driving – and MAG will serve on this study committee.
In addition to MAG's legislative efforts, the MAG Foundation is working with the Medical Association of Atlanta and the MAG Alliance to raise public awareness on the benefits of ending distracted driving. Contact Lori Cassity Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678.303.9282 to support this campaign with a donation.