A Cell phone and driving don’t equal car safety. Put your cell phone away and keep your hands on the wheel when you are driving a car.
It’s the new drinking and driving — and for good reason. As Americans become more addicted to their cell phones, BlackBerry devices and other PDAs, lawmakers throughout the nation are taking action in the wake of a disturbing national trend linking cell phone use with car crashes.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) reports the use of cell phones and other mobile devices now accounts for 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes. Research shows that driving while talking, texting or e-mailing with a cell phone or PDA can pose a serious distraction and interfere with driving a motor vehicle.
As a result of the growing number of cell phone-related car accidents, more states are pushing for legislation to ban cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, according to FindLaw.com, the Internet’s leading Web site for legal information. States that have banned the handheld use of cell phones by drivers include California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington as well as the District of Columbia.
The facts are especially alarming for teenagers, for whom driving-related incidents are the leading cause of death. According to an NHTSA report, more than 50 percent of teens admit to talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. At least 20 states, including Texas, currently ban any kind of cell phone use by teenage drivers, says FindLaw.com.
Because of the alarming trend linking cell phone use and driving, the National Safety Council has gone even further by calling for a complete ban on the use of all cell phones, including “hands-free” devices, for drivers nationwide.
Any activity a driver engages in while driving has the potential to distract the motorist from the primary task of operating the vehicle. A distraction is defined by any event or action that takes your eyes off the road (visual), mind off the road (cognitive), or takes your hands off the steering wheel (manual). Some research findings compare cell phone use to other activities such as passenger conversations or changing a CD while driving.