You're driving home down a busy street when you hear your cell phone ring in your briefcase. As you reach behind your seat to locate the phone, you take your eyes off the road. Meanwhile, the person in the car in front of you slams on his brakes.
Then, it all happens in an instant.
You see red brake lights in front of you. Although you quickly slam on your brakes, your car collides with the one in front of you. Police cars and an ambulance arrive on the scene. The person you rear-ended is rushed to the hospital complaining about back problems. Your car is inoperable. Now you face the possibility of costly hospital bills, auto repairs, and increasing insurance premiums. If only you had been paying attention to the road.
Besides the obvious consequences of the accident, consider the implications if this accident were caused by one of your employees while on the job. If you're a practice owner, your business could possibly be held liable. Help prevent this from happening to your practice by educating your employees.
Cell phones provide an important means of communication; however, when they are used while driving, they pose a distraction and a hazard. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that using cell phones while driving "quadruples the risk of a vehicle collision" (Chicago Sun Times, May 21, 2001). Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population is expected to own cell phones by 2004, according to a report conducted by Evli Securities (Chicago Sun Times, Sept. 20, 2001). Many areas, such as the state of New York, have begun implementing regulations on cell phone use while driving.
Cell phone manufacturers offer hands-free options and speed dialing features on cell phones to make them more user friendly for talkative drivers. Regardless of the technology available, drivers need to keep the safe operation of their vehicle the number one priority. No matter the duration of the conversation, using a cell phone is distracting. If you must make or take an important call, pull over to a secure location. Otherwise, wait until later. Minimize your distractions and use common sense to ensure a safer drive for everyone on the road.
On its Web site, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association offers the 10 safety tips listed at right, when using a wireless phone while driving (www.wowcom.com)