In order to learn more about distracted driving, you will perform research on the topic. Distracted driving is a large and growing problem on our roads today. Cell phones have created a whole new form of distraction and they are largely responsible for the almost 6,000 highway deaths each year that involve distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The most dangerous part of using a cell phone while driving is texting, which is likely responsible for more than 16,000 road fatalities between 2002 and 2007.
Before you begin your investigation of distracted driving, you should listen to these two Science Updates:
As you are listening to these radio shows, think about answers to these questions. These questions are repeated on the Distracted Driving student sheet:
- Why do you think so many hands-free phone laws assume that holding the phone and dialing are the main distractions to drivers?
- What does Horowitz's research suggest is the key distraction to drivers on hands-free phones? How did the scientists reach this conclusion?
- Why would it be so hard to determine if talking with passengers resulted in more real-life traffic accidents?
- Consider the following statement: "Cell phones don't cause accidents. It's just that people who use cell phones a lot tend to be bad drivers." Does Sondhi's research support this claim? Why or why not?
- Consider the following statement: "People should be allowed to use only hands-free phones when driving." Does Sondhi's research support this claim? Why or why not?
- Do you think there should be any laws regulating the use of cell phones while driving? How far should they go? What kind of evidence do you feel is necessary to justify these laws?
Your teacher has asked your group to perform research on distracted driving. You can use these resources to answer the questions on the Distracted Driving student sheet and to help you in your research. You will be asked to share your findings with the class.
- Distraction.gov is an excellent general resource for data and information. Some areas of the site to look at include:
- Public Education looks at what message people are most likely to respond to when you talk to them about distracted driving.
- Out to Lunch is an article on the psychological concept of inattentional blindness.
- Teens and Distracted Driving is a research study on teens and distracted driving.
This esheet is a part of the Driving while Distracted lesson.