Yesterday, I read an article in the Dutch newspaper about traffic related fatalities in Holland. In 2015, there were 621 traffic related fatalities compared to 570 in 2014 (+9%) and it was suggested that the use of mobile phones including texting and using other applications whilst driving has contributed strongly to the increase.
In Australia, during the 12 months ending October 2016, there were 1,271 road deaths. This is a 5.2 per cent increase compared to the total for the 12-month period ending October 2015. Similarly, there is a suspicion that the use of mobile phones contributed to the increase.
Picking up the phone seems an automatic behavior the moment we have a spare minute. In fact, we are looking at our phone 220 times a day on average. It happens when we are waiting for the bus, walking from A to B or standing at the counter in the supermarket. It almost feels that we can’t be with “doing nothing” anymore.
Of much more concern is the fact that this habitual behaviour continues when we are driving short or long distances and go on autopilot. For most of us, the temptation to use the phone whilst driving is incredibly strong. Despite regulations and our cognitive understanding that phone use in the car compromises our safety, our brain keeps convincing us that it is OK based on our previous experiences. Interestingly, we are much more worried about getting a fine than killing ourselves or others.
Our judgement is very different though when we imagine our children or loved ones texting whilst driving. It feels very unsafe and scares us to death. Think about that for a minute. Is there really such a big difference?
Are you willing to turn off your phone or put it in the glove box when driving? I think we owe it to ourselves, our children and others….