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<< News >>

An Exclusive Investigation

Friday, 11 March 2005 :: 12:09 pm

Cell Phones and Driving

by Jason Rzucidlo
AmericaJR@AmericaJR.com

Have you ever been on the road and noticed that a car was going slow or maybe it just took them a little longer to go after the light turned green?? Chances are the person driving was on a cell phone.

Cell phones are just one of many distractions that face drivers today.
Pemco Insurance Company did a survey and the results surprised me.
Eating a meal ranked the highest driver distraction at 65% followed by talking on a cell phone at 58%.

The next four responses are just silly: Steering with legs 25%, Applying makeup or shaving 14%, Reading a Newspaper or book 6% and writing a text message 3%.

Cell phone use is rising each year. In 1990, there were only 4.3 million cell phone customers. By January 2005, 175 million Americans had a personal cell phone. Van and SUV drivers are found to use cell phones the most. Women tend to use cell phones more than men.

Why do people even use a cell phone while they are driving? 58% of men use a phone in the car to discuss business. 37% of women use their phone in the car to discuss family matters. Cell phones are only use for emergencies 11% of the time for women and 6% of the time for men.

Using a cell phone in the car is like taking a risk. Drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing a number. People who are driving lose their ability to concentrate on the road and their driving is severely impaired. The use of hands-free devices does not help; it just makes the problem even worse.

Everyday in the U.S., 7 deaths are linked to cell phone related crashes.
That equals 2,600 deaths annually and 330,000 injuries. Drivers that are on the phone are 18% slower to reach to break lights and 17% longer to regain speed after stopping.

Over 40 different countries around the world ban cell phone use while driving in one way or another. In Germany, you can only use your cell phone when your engine is turned off. In New Delhi, India, you can get prison sentences if you are caught talking on the phone and it includes using a hands-free device.

In Ireland, if you are caught, you will get a $380 fine or 3 months in jail. In Poland, you can get a ticket up to $1,000 for using your phone on the road.

What’s being done to correct this problem in the U.S.? The only states in the U.S. that have a ban on cell phone use while driving are New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. In America, lawmakers believe that cell phones are used for emergencies most of the time but studies prove otherwise.

In the state of New York, the first violation costs $100, the second is $200 and those after are $500 each. In New Jersey, fines are between $100 and $250 each. In Washington D.C., you can get a ticket for $100. The U.S. Congress is working to get a bill passed to ban cell phone use while driving nationwide.


Here are some tips for safe cell phone use:

  • Keep your hands on the wheel at all times
  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times
  • Position your phone where it is easy to see and use
  • Use the speed dial feature instead of dialing the whole number
  • Pull over, park your car and dial manually
  • Use voicemail if it is inconvenient to answer

I only use my cell phone if I am having car trouble or it is some kind of other emergency. Otherwise, the call can wait and just go to my voicemail.

The best solution to this problem is to just not use your cell phone at all on the road. We all know that’s not realistic but at least try. Nobody wants to become a victim.

 

Sources:

Britt, Robert R. “Drivers on cell phones kill thousands.” MSNBC News. 2 Feb. 2005. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6895319/

“Cell Phones and Driving.” Insurance Information Institute. February 2005.

“Countries that ban cell phones while driving.” http://www.cellular-news.com/car_bans/
24 Feb. 2005.

NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. “Cell Phone Law Brochure.” http://www.nysgtsc.state.ny.us/phon-bro.htm 24 Feb. 2005.

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