Cell Phone Crash Stats – New study shows a four-fold increase in accidents while driving and talking on a cell phone.
By Cathy Nikkel/autoMedia.com
Hand held Ban?
Calling the IIHS findings a clear message, Lt. Colonel Jim Champagne, Chair of
the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) said, "Drivers should not use
any type of cell phone behind the wheel." He added that policy makers continue
to look for the answer to distracted driving, which includes a litany of
activities: eating, reading, talking to passengers, watching the countryside
or listening to the radio while driving. Champagne cautioned against states
enacting laws against hand held cell phones based on the study's findings that
hands-free phones were no safer. Such bans, he said, "send an incorrect
message to drivers that as long as they are hands-free, they are safe."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had grappled with cell
phone distraction for almost a decade. NHTSA says the cognitive distraction of
talking on a cell phone keeps a driver's mind off the road and the task at
hand. The agency's stated policy is that it is safer to stay off the phone
while driving hand held, hands-free or voice-activated. NHTSA estimates that
25 percent of all police-reported crashes are the result of driver distraction.
There is as yet no definitive study that shows activities like eating or
drinking a cup of coffee or messing with a CD player to be the same or worse
than chatting on a cell phone. However, NHTSA cites one study that compared
eating and operating a voice-activated cell phone to continuously operating a
CD player, which found that operating the CD player was more distracting than
the other activities. In a test track study conducted by NHTSA, the results
showed that manual dialing was about as distracting as grooming and/or/eating,
but less distracting than reading or changing CDs.