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Sadie Says… Stay safe, shut off the phone

Q: Is it true that if someone is using a cell phone while driving, they drive like a driver who is drunk?

A: Weaving, swerving, abrupt turns, tailgating — these are all signs of an intoxicate driver. But did you know that these are also signs of a person driving under the influence of a cell phone?

Consider this … drivers using a cell phone are four times more likely to get in a crash.

… driving while using a cell phone reduces the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.

… hands-free is not risk-free. Studies show hands-free is no safer than hand held — it’s the mental distraction of using a cell phone while driving that takes your attention from the road and makes a crash more likely.

… brains are not wired to multi-task. Using a cell phone while driving is multi-tasking, and can lead to “inattention blindness” — when you can literally look at something and not see it. That “something” could be a red light, a stop sign or a child.

… studies show it is safer to talk to a passenger than to talk on a cell phone when driving. Passengers are likely to point out dangers on the road and respond to traffic changes by stopping the conversation when traffic conditions become challenging.

Sharing the road with a distracted driver can be frustrating and instigate aggressive driving. Many drivers who don’t consider themselves aggressive become aggressive when another driver chooses to drive too slowly and backs up traffic, doesn’t signal or disregards traffic signs and signals — behaviors typical of a person using a cell phone while driving.

So shut off the phone — a safe driver is an alert and focused driver.

— Sadie Says is provided by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition.

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