Citing fatality and crash statistics from a Harvard University study and other sources, the National Safety Council is urging businesses and state government leaders to ban all motor vehicle drivers’ use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones for voice or text transmission
Sources: National Safety Council, Itasca, Ill.; CP staff
Citing fatality and crash statistics from a Harvard University study and other sources, the National Safety Council is urging businesses and state government leaders to ban all motor vehicle driversÌ use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones for voice or text transmission.
Studies show driving while talking on a cell phone is extremely dangerous and puts drivers at a four times greater risk of a crash, says Council President Janet Froetscher. When friends have been drinking, we take the car keys away. It’s time to take the cell phone away. Talking on a cell phone may be less distracting than some other activities drivers engage in, she adds, but the use of cell phones and texting devices is much more pervasive, making it more dangerous overall.
A study from Harvard University School of Public Health’s Center of Risk Analysis estimates that cell phone use while driving contributes to 6 percent of vehicle crashes, equating annually to 636,000 accidents, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths, plus estimated damages of $43 billion. NSC also cites a) University of Utah researchersÌ contention that hands-free devices do not make cell phone calls while driving safe; and, b) another study demonstrating that talking to passengers, versus into a cell phone, actually makes adult drivers safer, because passengers help alert drivers to potential risks.
When youÌre on a call, even if both hands are on the wheel, your head is in the call, and not on driving, says Froetscher. Unlike the passenger next to you, the person on the other end of the call is oblivious to your driving conditions. The passenger provides another pair of eyes on the road.
Froetscher is sending governors and state legislative leaders letters promoting cell phone usage bans for drivers. She acknowledges that achieving and enforcing bans in all states will be a challenge, but notes that NSC has successfully faced similar vehicular safety issues, including laws mandating seatbelt usage. In a three-fold approach, the Council will advocate legislation; educate the public and businesses about the risk of cell phone use while driving; and, supplement distracted-driving content in its training of 1.5 million people annually in defensive driving.