Cell Phones & Driving: A Dangerous Combination

Cell Phones & Driving: A Dangerous Combination

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving caused by cell phones has become a major public safety issue. The National Safety Council estimates that about every 30 seconds, there is a motor vehicle crash involving a driver using a cell phone. That works out to over 2,800 motor vehicle crashes per day, and over one million crashes per year. The NSC estimates that over 25% of all motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use at the time of the crash.

The Legal Response

In an attempt to halt this surge of cell phone-related traffic accidents, states and cities have passed laws restricting the cell phone use of drivers. According to the Governors Highway Safety Organization, the following states completely ban hand-held cell phone use: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia. Forty-three states have banned texting while driving. Many states have restrictions in place for school buses, or vehicles operated by novice drivers, and many cities around the nation have banned hand-held cell phone use while driving within their city-limits.

The Problem

Many drivers use hands-free headsets with their cell phones while driving. This is marketed and perceived as a safe alternative to driving with a cell phone in one’s hand. But research shows that the distraction that drivers experience with a hands-free headset makes it no safer than driving without one. This is because the primary safety risk with cell phones is not drivers operating a car with one hand; it’s the inherent distraction that cell phones cause.

Sound Advice: Hang Up and Drive

Drivers talking on a cell phone with a hands-free headset performed worse in driving tests than motorists with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, and it's shockingly common. Some studies report that as many as 10% of drivers on the road are talking on their phones at any given moment. The key lesson here is that there is no safe use of cell phones while driving, whether a driver is using a hands-free headset, or not.