My grandmother was always a bit of a chatty Cathy, that is, until she was a passenger in a car. Then she’d fall silent. Her reason? Driving a car is difficult work and requires concentration. Or so my grandfather told her. Turns out he had a point. Drivers with passengers are 60 percent more likely to have a car accident that results in hospitalization. That’s according to research from the George Institute for International Health.
But as much as passengers distract drivers, nothing beats mobile phones for increasing the risk of crashing. The institute analyzed nearly 500 serious accidents and found that the use of a cell phone – even hands-free - increased the likelihood of accidents by four times. While researchers haven’t figured out exactly how car conversations impair driving, the effects contribute to the 40,000 automobile deaths in the US annually. That’s about the size of Fenway Park. So with new cars being souped up with tv's, internet access and more cupholders than you can imagine, there's a Disneyland of distraction inside. Hm, maybe it's time to unplug and focus our eyes and ears on the road ahead.