Cell phone use while driving is rampant in South Carolina. All one has to do is observe the drivers on the road at almost any time. People from all walks of life, whether they are young moms with a carload full of kids, professional people conducting business while driving, or retirees talking to the grandkids, all have been observed driving while dialing or talking. Every safety organization has concluded that cell phone use, whether hand-held or hands-free, negatively affects a driver's reaction to emergencies and reduces the driver's focus on the road by up to 50 percent. And we all know when a driver in front of us is engaged in conversation on their cell phone by the vehicle's erratic behavior.
In fact, the use of a cell phone while driving is equivalent to being legally intoxicated when measuring reaction time. This is now referred to as "inattention blindness."
I have been the victim of a distracted driver rear-ending me while I was stopped at a traffic light. How many similar crashes have been the result of a driver talking instead of driving?
As a local driving school owner, my main purpose is to teach new teen drivers to drive safely and remain collision-free. My students all participate in eye/hand coordination games effectively proving that the human brain cannot successfully perform two tasks at once. They are shown the British public service announcement demonstrating the horrendous ramifications of texting while driving. A shorter version of this PSA will be shown in South Carolina during prime-time TV as part of a new AAA Carolinas safety campaign. We also take this one step further and have all the students sign a "No Phone Zone" pledge (originally instituted by Oprah Winfrey). We also encourage parents to set a good example for their children by pledging to not use cell phones while driving.
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The invention of the cell phone has been one of the best inventions of the past decade, but also one of the worst. The National Highway Safety Administration concluded that more than 6,000 people died on our roads last year due to "driver inattention."
Along with other professional driving instructors I know in the Carolinas, we all implore our elected officials to promulgate legislation banning cell phone use while driving. These laws should include all drivers regardless of age, include hands-free phones and be a primary driving violation carrying a hefty fine.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.