The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended a nationwide ban on cell phone use and texting while driving. They say such a ban is needed because of the number of fatal accidents caused by cellphone and texting distraction.
n 2009 nearly 5,500 Americans were killed due to distracted driving, and 448,000 were injured. Distracted driving means driving while texting, eating, drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, using a PDA or navigation system, watching a video, or fiddling with the car radio/CD/Mp3 player. Almost 1,000 of those deaths were related to cell phone usage while driving. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into an accident. Using a cell-phone even in hands-free mode, is equivalent to driving drunk at the intoxication level .08 percent. At this level one can be considered legally drunk. However there is some indication a level as low as .02% can impair one’s ability to drive a vehicle, which would mean using a cell phone while driving would actually be worse.
A New York Times article on the subject stated, “University of Utah researchers have shown in studies that conversations on hands-free phones are just as distracting as those on handheld ones. They called the problem one of inattention blindness.”
A related government study found 13.5 million drivers are on hand-held phones at any given moment during daylight hours. Currently about ten states have bans on cell-phone use while driving.
Have you or anyone you know been hit by a distracted driver? I have been nearly run over by distracted drivers several times, and witnessed a girl on a bike get hit by a GMC Yukon driver who was talking on a cell phone at the same time.
Image Credit: Anders