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Cell Phone Use While Driving - A Hazardous Recipe

Submitted by Anonymous on Jul 27th, 2009

In 2003, researchers proposed a long term study concerning the safety risks involved with driving distractions, primarily cell phone use while driving. Such a study never materialized into the public domain, and the researchers never published their research.

After two consumer advocacy groups, The Center for Auto Safety and The Public Citizen, filed freedom of information lawsuits, this research is now available to the public. These groups believe that cell phone distractions rival drunk driving in terms of danger. “We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up,” said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety.

The research estimates that cell phone distractions account for 955 deaths and 240,000 accidents in the year 2002 alone. The researchers also believe that hands-free laws are not the problem; rather cell phone usage is the problem. Researchers believe that a driver’s focus is compromised by talking on a cell phone.

This theory is furthered by this data which illustrates that drivers are more than four times as likely to be involved in a collision on their cell phones than having a .08 blood alcohol content.

Researchers understand the hazards of the crash. “We nevertheless have concluded that the use of cell phones while driving has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities,” according to a “talking points” memo the researchers compiled in July 2003. “We therefore recommend that the drivers not use wireless communication devices, including text messaging systems, when driving, except in an emergency.”

Many people have criticized the researchers for not publicizing their information, saying how the information helps reduce dangerous driving. By keeping this information a secret, America has adopted a culture of driving while performing other tasks.

Hopefully this new information will educate drivers in the hazards of cell phone usage while driving. The data suggests the dangers and increased driving risks with cell phone use. While researchers contend this information is still not suitable for the public, it seems as though citizens would benefit from learning about such hazards.