Wireless communication has dramatically improved daily life, but mobile phone technology also has a dramatic downside: the proliferation of cell phone use by drivers has made the roads considerably more dangerous.
Cell Phones are a Leading Cause of Driver Distraction
A joint study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in April 2006 concluded that nearly 80 percent of car crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes occur within three seconds of some kind of driver distraction. Dialing a cell phone ranked among the most dangerous distractions, tripling the risk of being involved in an auto accident. Although dialing presents a very large danger, simply talking on the phone is still less dangerous than reaching for something or being drowsy while driving. However, the ascendancy of cell phone usage by people operating motor vehicles makes it one of the most common factors in truck and car crashes, making it the most dangerous. According to the NHTSA, there are over 10 million U.S. drivers talking on cellular phones at any given moment, an alarming figure given the link between cell phones and distracted driving.
Cell Phones Bans on the Rise
In response to the increasing evidence linking cellular phone use and auto accidents, a number of states have started to ban their use on the roads. States with legislation regulating cell phone use while driving include Washington DC, New Jersey, New York.C. and Connecticut. California will join the list of states that ban using hand-held cell phones while driving in 2008. In addition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states have banned mobile phone use by minors as of November 2006.
Hands-Free Is No Safety Guarantee
Many drivers have switched to hands-free mobile phone devices in an effort to cut down on their risk of being involved in car accidents. However, a study conducted recently has shown that even a hands-free cell phone can be dangerous when used while driving. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study conducted in Perth, Australia in 2005, switching from hand-held cell phones to hands-free devices does not reduce the risk of car crashes. A recent study conducted by the University of Utah and published in the summer 2006 issue of Human Factors also concludes that hands-free cellular phones carry the same risk as hand-held phones. Evidence on hands-free phones continues to indicate that talking on the phone is a dangerous distraction, reducing driver alertness and reaction time, regardless of the type of cell phone being used.
In case you are in a truck or car accident where a usage of a cell phone has had a role, contact a lawyer with experience in car accidents. Your auto accident lawyer can help you file a suit, if appropriate, and possibly recover damages to which you may be entitled.