San Diego Businesses Join Fight Against Distracted Driving
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Aired 12/5/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Dr. Linda Hill, professor, Department of Family and Preventative Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, TREDS program director
Steve Bloch, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Automobile Club of Southern California
Many of us use technology to help with our multitasking at home and on the job, but we've become so attached to our mobile devices that it's hard to know when to put them down. This has also become a problem on our roads.
A recent survey from UC San Diego's Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety Program, known as TREDS, found 83 percent of surveyed adults reported texting, talking or using a smartphone application while driving even though there are laws in our state prohibiting it.
That's the focus of a new TREDS education program aimed at distracted driving, called 'Just Drive — Take Action Against Distraction'.
What's different about this national education program is that it's partnering with businesses to educate employees at their jobsite.
“Research has shown that talking on the phone while driving increases the risk of collision four-fold, with equal risk attached to hands free and hand held devices. This is the same as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08. Texting increases this risk eight to 16 times,” said Dr. Linda Hill, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and TREDS program director.
Steve Block, senior research associate at the Auto Club of Southern California tells KPBS that the organization been using road survey to tracking drivers who talk on the phone and text. In the five years since California adopted cellphone legislation, Block said the number of people talking on the phone has declined but the number of those texting while driving has increased and continues to rise.
In San Diego County, a survey conducted earlier this year found 56 percent of respondents reported driving with a handheld phone and 92 percent drive with a hands-free phone. The Adult Cell Phone Survey conducted by TREDS found that parents are using phones and texting while driving. Of the respondents with children between 12 and 17 years of age in the car, 65 percent reported using a phone while driving and 36 percent reported using a phone to text.
The Automobile Club of Southern California has also tracked the number of citations associated with phone use and texting while driving. Block said according to California Highway Patrol records, some 800,000 citations have been given out since the cellphone laws were put into place.
"People are getting citations, but the sanctions for using cellphones are not comparable to the danger you're causing on the road," Block said.
He said distracted for even a second can have devastating consequences. "People need to realize, there are no do-overs," he warned.
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