At least 250,000 drivers were caught using their cell phones in traffic in 2021, according to a survey by the Brazilian Traffic Medicine Association (Abramet), with data from the National Traffic Infractions Registry (Renainf). The risk of this practice when driving is the alert of the entity with the campaign “Toque pela Vida”, in Yellow May, a month dedicated to raising awareness of healthy and safe mobility.
Among the Brazilian states that stood out negatively last year, for having more records of this type, São Paulo leads with more than 37%, with 91,362 occurrences. Next are Minas Gerais and Goiás, with 30,843 and 16,971 infractions, respectively. The analysis reveals that, every hour, 28 drivers neglected attention behind the wheel due to cell phone use, reinforcing one of the main causes of accidents in Brazil.
“We know that the cell phone, while driving, exponentially increases the probability of suffering accidents with serious injuries and even death”, warns Antonio Meira Júnior, president of Abramet. The entity highlights a study that analyzed more than 30,000 claims with deaths and showed that carelessness while driving, using cell phones, accounted for 14% of them.
“Driving using a cell phone quadruples the probability of suffering a traffic accident and, if you are sending a message, it can increase the risk by up to 23 times. And this accident caused by the cell phone is a typical case that was not an accident. It is a traffic accident, because it is preventable, it could have been avoided”, says Meira Júnior.
The president of Abramet cites three types of distractions caused by the use of cell phones while driving, which explain the seriousness of the infraction. “Manual distraction, when you pick up your cell phone, you keep holding it, sending a message; visual distraction – you divert your attention to your cell phone when you should be looking around the car; and cognitive distraction – when the content of the conversation or information can cause an emotional change and you are responsible for causing a tragedy”, he adds.
The association recalls that there is no guidance on safe cell phone use while driving. Prevention is not using the device. “The majority of smartphones today has technology called mode drive. You put it in the mode where if a person calls, the device automatically sends a message informing you that you are driving the vehicle and that, at the appropriate time, you will respond”.
Using a cell phone while driving is a very serious infraction, according to the Brazilian Traffic Code (CTB). Anyone caught can pay a fine of R$ 243.47, in addition to earning seven points on the National Driver’s License.
The Touch for Life campaign will last for one year, highlighting the risks of using the device, but also other factors that contribute to accidents on the streets, such as alcohol and drug consumption, speeding, seat belts, helmets, sleep, vehicle conditions, among others.