It’s time to ask patients whether they text and drive. An important perspective piece from the New England Journal of Medicine urges doctors to include that question during preventive health exams. The data surrounding texting and driving is grim:
Although there are many possible distractions for drivers, more than 275 million Americans own cell phones, and 81% of them talk on those phones while driving. The adverse consequences have reached epidemic proportions. Current data suggest that each year, at least 1.6 million traffic accidents (28% of all crashes) in the United States are caused by drivers talking on cell phones or texting. Talking on the phone causes many more accidents than texting, simply because millions more drivers talk than text; moreover, using a hands-free device does not make talking on the phone any safer.
The author of the piece, Amy Ship from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, says that doctors should update traditional preventive questions to keep up with the times. The simple question, “Do you text while you drive?” is a way to start this important conversation. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*