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Cellphones create driving dangers

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Posted: 10 am ET

If you think the only danger for a driver using a cellphone is the distraction from the phone itself, think again. A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who use cellphones for phone calls while on the road are more likely to have other dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding, not using a seat belt, driving while drowsy, and using the phone to send texts or emails.

The 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationwide study that was released earlier this month, found that drivers who said they used their cellphones "fairly often" or "regularly" were more likely to engage in other dangerous driving practices in their cars than respondents who reported they never used a cellphone while driving.

Risks of driving with cellphones

Dangerous behavior Cellphone-using drivers Noncellphone-using drivers
Speeding 65% 31%
Driving drowsy 44% 14%
Driving without a seat belt 29% 16%
Sending text or email 53% 3%
Source: 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that there are more than 3,000 deaths and nearly 500,000 injuries annually due to car crashes involving distraction, but the agency notes that these numbers are likely lower than reality since it is challenging to determine what role distraction plays in many car accidents.

Do you text while driving? Are you less cautious when you're on your cellphone while driving?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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Richard B. Johnson
January 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I do not understand where they get their data. It is likely invention obtained to further a special interest. Aircraft pilots, routinely travelling many times faster than automobiles are required to maintain radio contact with ATC when in controlled airspace (most everywhere). We don't have any problems. I suggest that a few minutes training an automotive communicator would suffice to keep cell-phone users safe.

January 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Scott, it makes no difference, hands free or hand held, it's the conversation that distracts the individual. Ron, I agree it will have to be someone of "power" or "importance" that will have to be affected. I've contacted state legislators, only to be told, that they can't(in good faith) bring up legislation, because they are just as guilty.
I've noticed in last 5 yrs. people driving automobiles are veering over to wrong side of the road quite often. Why? 99% of the time they conversing on a cell-phone. Their attention and conversation is on that cell phone device.
I always use my own illustration. Imagine if your are relaxing at home, watching a movie you've been wanting to see, watching a sporting event, or, romantic time with your spouse. The phone rings, I'll guarantee you you will do one of the two things here. You will either say, "I'll call you back", or, you will allow the answering machine to answer. You know why? Because you cannot do both, that is concentrate on the entertainment, or someone else, and converse with someone on the phone. Yet we allow people to operate a potentially deadly vehicle.

It doesn't make sense does it

January 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm

just stay off the dam phone already! it's as simple as that!!!

January 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I'd really like to know if it makes any difference in those stats if a person is using a hands free device.

Vito Pepitone
January 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm

While our devices are capable of multi-tasking, we are not!

January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Several years ago I answered my phone: "Hello?"

"Hi Uncle Jimmy. I got my learner's permit!!!" (my then teen-aged niece Marlene)

"Way to go Marlene! What's all that noise in the background?"

"I'm driving my Dad's van. 80MPH in the left lane! "

I hung up.

January 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm

The stats more than prove that using a device while driving is very dangerous. Nothing will be done until someone in power loses a loved one. Like most problems, money talks. The industry is very powerful, similar to the gun manufactures and advocates. It would be nice to see government do the right thing and forget the political consequence .

January 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Talking and driving is a very bad idea. Many drives are talking while driving

bill shea
January 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm

in april 2012 i had a tramatic amputation of my right foot do to a 17 year old boy texting while driving. i think there should be much harsher punishments for these crimes.

Karen Lincke
January 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I do not talk and drive, period. But I do notice many drivers talking on their cell phones and it usually looks like they are arguing and waving their other hand at the same time. Also, shame on the person on the other end letting their family or friend drive while upsetting them! They are totally distracted. I hardly ever see a person talking real calm with a smile on their face.