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  1. #1
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    CELL PHONE DANGERS (assignment from college course discussion)

    Cell Phone Dangers

    Everyone knows that drunk drivers, speeding cars, screaming kids, and road rage are all the typical dangers that cause accidents on America’s roadways. But you might not have heard about the newest one. And if you are one of this nation’s 94 million people who own a cell phone, you are probably part of the problem. People driving while talking on their cell phones are ending the lives of Americans throughout the country.

    Rachelle Herod, 17, Lawrence resident, was driving home from school in her compact Honda Civic. The traffic was the usual in central Lawrence, stop-go, stop-go. She was just sitting back listening to music when her cell phone rang. As she reached over to take the phone out of her backpack, her eyes were averted from the road. After retrieving the phone, her eyes returned to the road, only this time the road was not as she remembered. Traffic had stopped and she was still going. The next thing she remembers before hitting her own steering wheel was the image of her car rolling underneath a semi-truck.

    Luckily, Herod’s story has a happy ending. She fully recovered from her injuries and the vehicles have been repaired. But not all stories involving cell phones while driving end like hers did. 2-year-old Morgan Lee Pena of Hilltown Township, Pa., was killed when a driver ran a stop sign while trying to dial his cell phone. The 27-year-old man is being charged with careless driving.

    In a separate incident, John and Carole Hall of New York were killed when another car slammed into the back of their car while they were parked on the shoulder. The driver was talking on his cell phone. 19-year-old Jason Jones of Maryland neglected his driving responsibilities by talking on his cell phone and also driving at speeds between 80 and 105 miles per hour. Jones was later found not guilty of vehicular manslaughter in a Maryland court. Instead he was found guilty of negligent driving, a fine of $500.

    These are a few examples of stories that have directly linked cell phone usage with the cause of a crash. There are uncounted other automobile accidents throughout the nation that are cell phone related. There currently no official statistics as to the exact amount of accidents caused by cell phone usage. Most police departments around the nation, including Lawrence, do not keep an official statistic on whether an accident was the result of cell phone usage.

    Danger! Danger!

    A February 13, 1997, study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that using a cell phone while trying to operate a motor vehicle increased your chance of collision by more than 400 percent. In the study, researchers studied 699 drivers who had been in substantial property damage accidents. Cell phone calls during the week before and the day of the accident were analyzed. Surprisingly, the study also found that use of hands-free cell phones did not lower the chance of collision.

    The study concluded that the risk associated with using a cell phone while operating a vehicle were nearly as high as having a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

    To address these concerns, a new market has been created for devices that will allow the cell phone user to have better control over his or her vehicle. Small earphones that are inserted into the ear and have a microphone are growing in popularity. They allow the driver to operate the vehicle with both hands on the wheel instead of one on the wheel and one on the phone.

    Speakerphones that can dial a number using only voice are becoming more prevalent. "They really are the best option. They allow you keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel," said Charu Narula, Leawood senior. These speakerphones are mounted in the interior of the car and pick up the voice of the driver without the need for manual manipulation

    Government Steps In

    A new trend is emerging and hopes to help end tragedies like those that claimed the life of Morgan Lee Pena. Recently, Suffolk County, New York, banned the use of cell phones while driving. The town legislature voted 12-6 to allow only the use of hands-free cell phones while driving and the penalty for violating such law is $150. The law was enacted in response to the accident that claimed the lives of John and Carole Hall, Suffolk County residents.

    The Kansas state legislature had a bill that would put a 2 minute cap on the length of a cell phone call while driving until the driver is able to pull over. A fine would be assessed if a driver violates such law in conjunction with another violation.

    Kansas state legislator Sue Storm is the head proponent of the bill and though it has been stopped in previous attempts, she feels the law is a necessity. "Our constituents want this legislation," said Storm. According to Storm, 77 percent of her constituents who responded to a recent survey favored increasing penalties for drivers who commit violations while using cell phones.

    The legality of such bans has come under fire recently. Hilltown, Pa., passed a ban on cell phone use while driving unless using a hands-free unit.

    Common Pleas Judge David Heckler recently overturned the ordinance, which carries a $75 dollar fine. Heckler declared the rule "null and void" saying that it was pre-empted by portions of the state motor vehicle code dealing with careless driving. The case was brought to the judge when a man was cited for using his cell phone while driving through the town. The man claimed he did not know about the ordinance or even that he was in Hilltown.

    For now, police departments are powerless to stop drivers for simply talking on their cell phones. "When we do drive we want people to be as safe as possible and we can only enforce the laws that we have available to us," said Sgt. Mike Pattrick of the Lawrence Police Department.

    The legality of such bans will raise many questions for the future. Such bans seem to be infringing on the right of citizens to assess their own ability to drive while talking. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the costs? "I don’t believe a ban would be infringing on my rights, as long as it helps the general public," said Narula.

    Are You Dangerous?

    Take the time to complete this simple test to determine how safe you are behind the wheel. Answer yes or no to the following questions:
    • 1. Do you know the exact location of buttons on your phone so that you need not look down while driving?
    • 2. Do you have common numbers programmed so there is less time needed to dial numbers you may need to dial while driving?
    • 3. Do you currently have an earpiece or speakerphone that allows you talk and keep both hands on the wheel while driving?
    • 4. Is your phone within easy reach of you in case it rings and you need to answer it while driving?
    • 5. Do you commonly suspend your conversations if driving conditions become hazardous (i.e. rain, construction, heavy traffic)?
    • 6. Do you refuse to engage in distracting or heated conversations on your phone while driving?
    • 7. Do you have your voicemail configured so that if a call comes and you cannot answer it safely while driving, you won't miss the call?
    • 8. Do you know how to answer your phone without looking at the phone?
    • 9. Do you make an effort to not gesture while talking on your phone while driving?

    Cell phone use by drivers topped the list of public concerns in a nationwide U.S. poll about highway and vehicle safety issues. The poll was conducted for a consumer advocacy group, which reported that 76 percent of Americans support legislation limiting use of mobile phones by those behind the wheel.
    The survey results were reported by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, health, safety, insurance and law enforcement organizations, following a poll by Harris Interactive.

    Police Report Data Sought

    According to the poll, while an estimated two out of every three adults own a cell phone, 83 percent of the public wants more attention paid to the dangers of cell phone use by drivers. In addition, the public favors legislation that would restrict use of cell phones while driving, and 90 percent of Americans believe police officers should indicate on crash reports whether a driver was using a cell phone.

    Harris said two out of every three U.S. adults (64 percent) now own a cell phone, and just under half of all cell phone owners (43 percent) say they regularly use them while driving. But when asked how they would react if their state passed a law limiting cell phone use while driving, except in case of an emergency, a lopsided 76 percent majority opted for such a restriction. Even among cell phone owners, 69 percent would favor passage of such a law.

    Playing for Keeps

    "We want to examine recent research in cell phone use among drivers and determine the extent of safety-related problems," Judy Lee Stone, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told Wireless NewsFactor. "It is clear that people are concerned about this issue, and we were surprised that the numbers were so high among cell phone users themselves."

    Advocates is not pushing specific legislation or any other action to limit cell phone use among drivers, Stone said. "The last thing we want to do is support a law that does not work," she noted.

    "It is evident that the American people are playing for keeps on restricting cell phone use by drivers, except for emergency situations," pollsters reported. "This means that fully 28 percent of the adult public in the country -- those who own and regularly use cell phones while driving -- would have to cease using their cell phones when driving, or risk violating any new law that limits the use of cell phones."

    National Consensus

    First among the priorities regarding auto and highway safety is that the public wants more attention directed to cell phone use by drivers, with 83 percent of survey respondents opting for this issue to be brought front and center. This is partly attributed to rapid penetration of cell phones in the market, along with media attention focused on how safe they are to use, the poll stated.

    With New York state law already banning use of handheld cell phones in cars, it appears the rest of the country supports similar moves in their own home states, the poll reported. The dominant view is that use of cell phones diverts drivers' attention from the road. The counterargument -- that almost everyone who uses a cell phone in a car can do so and not endanger safety -- is simply rejected, according to the poll. Majorities across every subgroup of the population share this view, the survey said.

    Jury Still Out on Driver Distraction

    A cross-section of 1,001 U.S. adults ages 18 and older was used in the survey, with interviews conducted from July 1st to July 19th, Harris said. Among the poll's other findings: 90 percent of Americans believe the federal government should have power to set rules and regulations concerning areas of safety, including auto safety.

    Earlier this year, Robert Shelton, executive director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told Congress that driver distraction contributes to between 20 and 30 percent of all car crashes in the United States. But, he said, there is not enough research data to define the extent of distraction-related crashes directly attributable to cell phone use.

    The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) contends that the dangers of cell phone use while driving have been overstated. "The reality of the situation from the current crash data available is that wireless phones aren't contributing to a significant number of crashes," CTIA president Tom Wheeler said in testimony before Congress.
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  3. #2
    CPS Fanatic
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    Re: CELL PHONE DANGERS (assignment from college course discussion)

    that's good info, and it's no surprise at all. there have been studies that have proven this again and again...

    Surprisingly, the study also found that use of hands-free cell phones did not lower the chance of collision.
    i had read this as well. in fact i think we debated this in the "do you use a cell phone" poll thread:

    i personally found that using a hands-free set was even more distracting than just holding the phone with my hand... with wires snaking all over me...

    i would love to see a total ban on cell phone use while driving. but i am not confident that will happen. i am sure the big phone companies will lobby congress to compromise and just instate a hands-free requirement (which we know now is just as bad)
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

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