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It is currently estimated in the United States that there are an additional 30,000 cellular phones in use every day. When people use cellular phones while driving motor vehicles, particularly when dialing a number, they are often distracted and traffic accidents occur. The following are a series of safety tips for cell phone users:
Get to know your cell phone and its features such as speed dial and redial. Carefully read your instruction manual and learn how to use the automatic redial and memory dial. Up to ninety-nine numbers can be stored in most phones.
Use hands free devices. A number of hands-free cell phone accessories are readily available today. Some experts feel that hands-free devices will help keep you safer; however, you still must have your mind on driving and not on your conversation.
Position your phone within easy reach. Make sure you place your cell phone within easy reach, usually the console in your car. If it rings at a bad time, just let the voice mail answer it.
Suspend conversation during hazardous conditions or situations. Let the person you are speaking to understand that you may have to complete the call later because of heavy traffic or hazardous weather. Your first responsibility is to the road. Also, if you are going through a school zone, you need to tell your friend that you are unable to talk. Many states have laws that prevent you from using a cell phone in a school zone.
Pay attention to the road. Do not take notes or look up phone numbers while driving. If you are reading a text message or message on your car’s screen, you are not watching where you are going. Use common sense and don’t get caught up in a dangerous situation because of that mistake.
Dial sensibly and assess the traffic; if possible, place calls when you are not moving or before pulling into traffic. Better yet, pull over. Plan your calls before you take off and if necessary, call while you are at a stop sign or red light. A good suggestion is to dial only a few numbers, check the road, and mirrors, and continue to complete the dial.
Do not engage in distracting conversations. Stressful or emotional conversations and driving do not mix – these can be dangerous if you allow that type of distraction while you are behind the wheel. Tell the person that the conversation will have to wait until you are off the highways.
Use your phone to call for help. Your cellular phone is one of the greatest tools you can own to protect yourself and your family in dangerous situations. Remember, help is only three numbers away: 9-1-1 in case of traffic accident, road hazard, fire, accident, or medical emergencies. It is a free call on your cell phone.
Use your phone to help others in emergencies. Your cellular phone provides you a perfect opportunity to be a “Good Samaritan” in your community. Call 9-1-1 if you witness an auto accident, crime in progress, or other serious emergency where others lives are in danger. You would want others to do this for you.
Call roadside assistance. There are special cell phone non-emergency assistance numbers to call when necessary. Certain situations may require attention but are not urgent enough for a 9-1-1 call. Your cell phone can still lend a hand. If there is a broken traffic signal, minor traffic accident with no injuries, broken-down vehicle, call roadside assistance or other special non-emergency wireless number. You can look up your state’s roadside number and keep it in your phone. In Texas, it is *DPS, or *377.
Reference “The Complete Campus Crime Prevention Manual” by The AEGIS Protection Group. From the University of Texas at San Antonio Police Department, Crime Prevention.