The Dangers of Cell Phone Use While Driving


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Are you sick and tired of having your life endangered by drivers who are too self-important to put their phones down and pay attention to the road? Once presented with the following information, one will be convinced not to use one's cell phone while driving and remember to drive now and talk later.
A drive around any town provides enough evidence for most of us that cell phone use is threatening the safety of anyone who navigates on or near our roads. The exanimation of articles from The New England Journal of Medicine, Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Patti Pena are all for getting rid of cell phone use while driving. On the other side, AAA and The Associated Press are against the revocation of cell phone use while driving.
15 or 20 years ago, what do you think people did when they had to make a call while in their car? Do you think they drove around looking for pay phones all day? No, they waited until they got where they were going before making their calls. If you are so important that you can't wait until you're not in a car to talk to someone, then stay home. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a person who is using a cell phone while driving is four times more likely to get into an accident than someone who is not. This, coincidently, is the same likelihood for getting in an accident while driving drunk. (453)
Many people would argue that talking to someone in your car is no different than singing along with the radio. This is not the case. When Tom and Ray Magliozzi of "Car Talk" on National Public Radio -- the creators of Drive Now Talk Later program -- were asked these same questions and they responded:
Ray: Why is it more distracting than listening to the radio? Because it's interactive. Someone is speaking to you, which requires you to listen, process what's being said, and then respond. And having a conversation requires a certain amount of brain power -- brain power that is then NOT being used to operate a 3,000-pound moving vehicle.
Tom: And why is it more distracting than having a conversation with a passenger? Well, for one thing, a passenger can see when you're trying to merge into traffic, or back out of a driveway, and will usually understand if you stop speaking and concentrate on the task at hand.

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The person on the other end of the cell phone has no idea what's going on with you. Not to mention that you never have to take your eyes off the road and "dial" the person in the passenger seat. (1-3)
A poll was taken on CarTalk.com, in which 10,516 people were surveyed and asked the question "Should drivers be banned from using cell phones?" Of those surveyed, 40% say yes, 32% say only use with hands free device, 27% said no and 2% did not know. (1)
There are further incentives not to use a cell phone while driving. For instance, a woman named Pattie Pena had a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Morgan Lee, who was killed as a result of an auto accident that occurred on November 2, 1999. Her vehicle was hit broadside by a man who admitted that he did not stop at the stop sign because he was distracted while dialing his cellular phone. He ran into the rear passenger door at 45 mph, right where Morgan was sitting. He received a total of $50 in fines. The coroner listed the cause of little Morgan Lee's death as "blunt head trauma".
A more well-known incident involved supermodel Nicky Taylor. She was in a horrible accident that also happened because of a cell phone. The person driving her car bent down to answer his cell phone and slammed into a telephone pole. (Pena 1-2)
I am not saying that people should not have cell phones. I think that it is a good thing to have a cell phone in your car incase you have an accident or break down. However, if you need to make a call on it, you should definitely pull over and take the call. Yes, that is inconvenient, but it is also inconvenient to operate a wheelchair with your tongue.
This type of accident happens far too often to be considered coincidence. It is feared that if no action is taken then this problem is going to get way out of hand. Already you see cars with TV's, GPS and all things that are distracting and cause the driver to be preoccupied or take their hands off the wheel.
More mishaps are certain to happen because the cell phone industry is making their cell phones smaller, lighter and more functional. It is widely suggested that certain design changes could help minimize the attention required to place or receive a call. For example: larger keypads and number displays, increased power to avoid distracting "dropouts," easier-to-hold handsets, keys that beep or click when pressed so a driver doesn't have to verify the number dialed, and using a less-startling sound than a ring for incoming calls.
AAA came out with a report saying that traffic accidents were not a major problem and that cell phones only played a part in less then 6% off all accidents. Their information was not gained properly. (Car Talk 1) AAA only looked at accident reports where the police officer put that in as a factor. Most people are not going to volunteer the fact that the accident was their fault because they were stupid and talking on their cell phones. ‘Now, be honest. Let's say you just grabbed your cell phone to answer a call, and rear-ended the BMW M5 in front of you. The blue lights from the state police are flashing in your rearview mirror. The guy in front of you is clutching his neck and already making noises about "seeing you in court." The ambulance is on its way, with a flock of personal-injury attorneys approaching. Are you going to tell the cop, "You know, I really screwed up. I answered my phone when I should have been paying attention to the traffic. It's my fault. Boy, do I feel stupid"? Of course you won't. It's not human nature to admit fault--especially when a bunch of polyester-clad lawyers and insurance adjusters are starting to circle your vehicle.'(Magliozzi 2)
Researchers of the Associated Press article updated previous studies on the economic costs associated with accidents caused by cell phone use. The costs added up to an estimated $43 billion a year. This takes into account auto and property damage, medical bills and loss of life. This is about the same as the researchers arrived at for the value that cell phone owners put on their phones. (AP 1) The original study found that the costs saved by a cell phone ban would be $2 billion, compared with about $25 billion in benefits lost, meaning a cell phone ban would have a loss to society of about $23 billion.(AP 2) The loss is to society's pocketbook.
I am a firm believer in not using my cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Come on; are we all really so selfish that we would rather endanger innocent lives then waiting 20 minutes to make a phone call? I hope this paper has converted you not to talk on your cell phone while driving. And to always remember unless it is an emergency, Drive now and Talk Later.
Bib
Car Talk Bibliography

Redelmeier, Donald A., and Robert J. Tibshirani. "Association between Cellular- Telephones and Motor Vehicle Collisions." The New England Journal of Medicine 336 #7 (1997) 453-458.

Hahn, Robert W., and Paul C. Tetlock. "The Economics of Regulating Cellular Phones in Vehicles. AEI-Brooking Joint Center for Regulatory Studies October1999.

Magliozzis, Tom and Ray. "The Car Talk Guys" www.cartalk.com Drive now Talk Later.

Pena, Patricia "Story of Morgan Lee Pena" Jan 2000 www.Geocities.com/morganleepena.

Sundeen, Matt. "Cell Phones and Highway Safety." National Conference of State Legislature July 2000


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