Measured Against Reality

Friday, August 25, 2006

Driving and Talking on a Cell Phone is Dangerous

Is diving while talking on a cell phone more dangerous than driving drunk? Anyone familiar with MythBusters will know that their tests said that it is (at least while driving at the legal limit). But in “typical MythBusters fashion” their sample was too small. What do real studies have to say about this?

The professional studies back it up too. A recent University of Toronto study found that drivers talking on cell phones are four to five times as likely to get into accidents, and that hands-free sets do little to decrease these odds. A study from Perth, Australia found the same increase in risk. Another study from the University of Utah also found that hands-free sets do little to offset the chances of an accident. These are just some of the many studies done that all come to the same conclusion, driving while talking is hazardous.

Continue reading...There is a clear danger from driving while talking on a cell phone, arguably as great as or greater than from driving drunk. What is being done about it? A handful of states have totally outlawed it: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Washington DC, as well as a few towns. A few more have partial bans, and as many as 2/3 have proposed legislation at some point.

What I want to know is where is the outrage? Driving with a cell phone is clearly dangerous, but nothing like the crackdown against drunk driving is happening. Why? My best guess is that not enough people have died yet, and cell phones aren’t as good of a scapegoat as alcohol. There are no groups like MADD spreading anti-cell phone propaganda, and not enough people are putting pressure on lawmakers.

There’s also no cultural stigma against it, evidenced by how many people do it. If you think about, the quintuple increase in chance of an accident combined with the number of people doing it means that you’re probably far more likely to be in a phone-related accident than an alcohol-related one. Why is no one outraged?

Driving while talking is dangerous, without a doubt. So do something about it, even if it means refusing to talk while you’re in a car. You might just save a life.

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