Mobile Devices and the Risk of Car Crashes


Oh no, I did it again. I was sitting at a stoplight when light turned red so I did as most of us do, pulled out my phone to see who just texted me. Is there enough time to respond? Oh no again, the cell phone rang.  Is it the repairman sitting outside my house waiting for me?  This is a quiet stretch in downtown. I’ll quickly punch in that security code and make the call. Do you do this too?

In our busy worlds, there seem to be more reasons than not to tap out that text message, check that voice mail or look at email as we drive.  Yet Europeans, according to a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, don’t have these texting and driving issues.

Researchers learned that Europeans in 7 countries don’t share American’s affliction for instant communication via mobile devices. Yes, the Europeans may use their mobile devices while driving but at a far lower rate than we do.

In a KLIF-AM radio interview about the report, Robert Risch, M.D., an emergency physician on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, noted that “70 percent of Americans admitted to texting while driving in the last 30 days while only 29 percent of Europeans had texted while driving in the same time period.”

Mobile devices are a convenience and a hazard simultaneously Many laws prohibit use of mobile devices in school zones but what about the safety of pedestrians and other motorists elsewhere?

Again, Dr. Risch cited some interesting stats:  “It takes only 4.6 seconds to complete a text message.  In average driving, that’s the length of a football field.”

The report noted Worldwide, road traffic crashes contribute to an estimated 1.3 million deaths annually. Experts know that risk factors for crashes include speed, alcohol, and not using restraints and helmets, but recent evidence suggests that using mobile devices while driving quadruples the risk of being in a crash,” according to online JAMA commentary.

So think twice before pulling out your mobile device while in the car. It might save your life.

About the author

Susan Hall
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Susan joined Baylor many years ago when Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas was the only Baylor facility in the area. When not at work, she’s outside – Big Bend National Park is her favorite with Glacier National Park a close second.

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Mobile Devices and the Risk of Car Crashes