Stop Talking, Start Driving MAG

April 24, 2009
By Lisa DiBona BRONZE, Cumberland, Rhode Island
Lisa DiBona BRONZE, Cumberland, Rhode Island
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Two thousand six hundred. That’s the estimated number of people killed every year by auto­mobile accidents involving cell phones. However, research is limited. The actual number could very well be 8,000. People die every day just because other drivers decide they need to send a text, make a call, or answer the phone while driving.

Cell-phone use while operating an automobile should be banned. The number of people who have died and those who die every day because of cell phones distracting drivers is ­outrageous. And that’s just fatalities. Nonfatal injuries are a hundred times more common: approximately 330,000 per year. The number killed and injured for no good reason is much more than what it should be: zero.

These accidents could be prevented and all of these lives saved. “Chatty motorists are less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08,” Robert Roy Britt wrote in LiveScience, citing a recent study. This means that drivers on cell phones are less skilled than people who are under the influence. According to the study, drivers using a cell phone were 12 percent slower at reacting to brake lights and took 17 percent longer to regain speed after they braked. The use of cell phones impacts the overall flow of traffic, slowing it down. As you can see, talking on a cell phone really does negatively affect your driving.

Five states – California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington – and the District of Columbia have banned handheld phone use by drivers, but that means 45 states haven’t.

Then there’s the debate about hands-free devices. Are they safe to use? The scientists who conducted the cell-phone safety study “found that even hands-free cell-phone use distracted drivers … Drivers look but don’t see, because they’re distracted by the conversation,” wrote Britt in LiveScience. Drivers are too preoccupied with their conversations to react to everyday occurrences such as braking at stop lights, stop signs, yield signs, etc.

Another research group conducted a similar experiment in Illinois. “With younger adults, everything got worse,” said Arthur Kramer, who led the study. “Both young adults and older adults tended to show deficits in performance. They made more errors in detecting important changes and they took longer to react to the changes.” So even with hands-free devices, you are still at risk of causing an accident and injuring or killing yourself or others.

The most troubling question of all is, will a law make a difference? Or will drivers ignore it? A law won’t eliminate the problem but perhaps it will raise awareness that cell-phone use while driving isn’t smart. If more people understand the risks, maybe they will be less likely to use their phones while ­driving.

Every year 42,000 people die in automobile accidents. Two thousand six hundred of those are because someone was using a cell phone. Many of those deaths could have been prevented. So think twice next time you consider calling about your haircut on Tuesday while you’re driving. Think again before texting a friend to say hello while you’re speeding down the highway. Think about the people on the road – ­mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, yourself – whose lives you are risking. If we stop cell phone use while driving, many lives could be saved each year. Two thousand six hundred, to be exact.

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This article has 4 comments.

Shelby.L2013 said...
on Sep. 24 2009 at 7:53 pm
Shelby.L2013, Forks, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
This is a really great article. Really informative, and it would really help if people were listening. I myself live in Washington, and sadly people still use cell phones constantly while driving. I agree that it is most definitely a bad idea to text/talk while driving, and you will definitely NEVER find me engaging in that activity.

Grayson2600 said...
on Jun. 8 2009 at 4:23 pm
I am from Washington and even with the law i see lots of people using hands on cell phones. Its anoying that everyone ignores laws that they think is stupid.

something said...
on May. 6 2009 at 2:26 pm
they are awsome

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