By Fiona Nowlin
Cell phones have become a staple for everything from texting and emailing to capturing videos and navigating a new city. But what about the ergonomic and safety factors of these essential devices? The most important safety precaution is to avoid cell phone use in risky situations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration you’re 23% more likely to have an accident while driving if texting, and, at any given moment, there are 800,000 drivers using hand-held devices while driving in the U.S.
At Humantech, employees are not allowed to use their company phone while driving. Practices like these are effective. California has seen a 47% decrease in traffic deaths attributed to distracted drivers since their 2008 ban on cell phone use while driving.
Distracted walking has also become an emerging issue. According to the Associated Press, cell phone use while walking has resulted in a four-fold increase over the last seven years in distracted pedestrian injuries.
Lack of situational awareness isn’t the only thing that makes cell phones risky. Mobile devices have a ways to go in terms of ergonomics as well. Excessive use can strain the hands and wrists, neck, and eyes. While stretching and cell phone accessories can help reduce the strain, the best solution is to change our habits when it comes to mobile device use. The University of Michigan’s Occupational Safety & Environmental Health has some great ergonomics tips for texting and smartphone use.
Humantech consultants also recommend using protective cases that reduce the need for grip strength, clustering your most used apps in an accessible part of the screen, and keeping your phone in the back seat of the car to avoid the temptation of looking at it while driving.
With 88% of Americans using cell phones, this is an issue affecting nearly everyone. Increasing awareness and mitigating the risk factors will only add to the value of these devices.