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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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mike tsepas
January 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm

If you talk on cellfones as you driving firt time three months No dr.licens second time ONE year No licens!!!!!!!!

January 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm

For the life of me I don't understand this obsession with cell phones!!!

January 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

In Maryland it's against the law to talk and drive, but you only get a ticket if they stop you for another reason. So in other words you have to be either speeding, crossing the line or some other thing and talking before you get a ticket for also talking on a cell phone. I think that's wrong! I don't talk on my phone, and if I get a call I pull over as soon as I can. I see so many people talking on their cell phones with young children in the back, it's just so dangerous. I also worry about people running in the back of me since they are not paying attention. There should be a federal law, I would support such a law. I think AAA should try and push for it, they are a big orgsnization who can speak for the people.

Anthony DeMarco
January 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I think that the car companies and the phone companies should get together and create technology that blocks all cell phone usage withing two feet of the steering wheel, other than gps, as long as the car is moving.

January 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

The law that bans "hand-held cell phone use" has in effect introduced far more serious and hazardous driving practices:

(1) The hand-held user must scan the road for police cars so not to get caught in the act (significantly increasing the mental and visual distraction).

(2) The hand-held user is more prone to send-receive text messages so not to be caught holding the phone. The hand-held user is also texting while holding phone below dashboard level, thus taking their eyes completely off the road.

You may argue that everyone should utilize a "hands-free" device. However, here is a scientifically proven FACT: The hand-held user has the same "mental/cognitive" distraction as a hands-free user.

A quick fix SOLUTION: Immediately abolish the cell phone law (in all states) to significantly reduce the occurrence of the extremely unsafe practice of texting while driving (#2 above).

The best SOLUTION: The law should ban all types of cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. And from here on all accident investigations should require a search of cell device records to document active or non-active use at the time of accident. If the driver was found to be using a device they should automatically be considered 50% (or greater) at fault.

January 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

People on phones while driving is why I carry big limits on uninsured and under insured, stacked on my auto policy. Go ahead, make my day...

January 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm

What gets me about Cell phone users (texting or calling) is how they swerve back and forth in their lanes. And if you dare honk your horn when they are swaying into your lane about to hit your car, they give a bitter look as if you are to blame .. Oh wait, I guess I was . I distracted them from their conversation and made them pay attention to driving.

R B Jackson
January 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Two thoughts:
1. Clinical studies show that the portion of the brain most active (occupied) during driving, is also the same portion of the brain most active (occupied) while talking on the phone or conversing with another person. That is a direct conflict leading to "distraction."
2. To Richard B. Johnson - Are you trying to equate driving a car, typically within 3-4 feet of another vehicle, with operating a commercial aircraft whose typical clearance with another aircraft is measured in miles? Re-think!

January 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I refuse to talk on my phone while driving (I can't even imagine texting!!). If I receive a call that I think I must take--that is, if someone is calling with directions or information that I need at that moment--I pull over and take the call. This has sometimes resulted in homeowners coming out to see why I am parking in front of their house, but no one has ever been really mad and I think it's preferable to driving distracted.

January 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Everyday, everywhere there are people on their phone.
Places like roundabouts, dangerous intersections,highway merges/exits, crowded parking lots ect...
Who the heck do you talk to at 5 in morning?
You cannot possible use your peripheral vision on the side where you are holding your phone... BTW, vision is one of those things needed to be an alert and considerate driver.
People on their cell phones are ignorant of the simplest things that would make accidents fewer, driving less aggravated and would make most areas have a better traffic flow.. hmmm novel idea huh?
Not rocket science.