Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cell phone users pose more danger than drunk drivers

A study from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis claims that 6% of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States - some 636,000 a year - are caused by drivers talking on their cell phones while driving.

Dr. David Strayer of the University of Utah found that it is more dangerous for a driver to talk on his cell phone while driving than it is to talk to a front seat passenger. He said it didn't matter whether the driver was talking on a conventional phone or on a hands-free model -- because the degree of impairment was so great.

"When you're on a call, even if both hands are on the wheel, your head is in the call," said Janet Froetscher, president of the National Safety Council.

In a previous study, Dr. Strayer concluded that drivers talking on cell phones pose a greater hazard to other motorists than drunk drivers. His research indicated that drivers talking on cell phones exhibited slower responses than drivers dosed to a .08 alcohol concentration as measured by breath.

At any given time you are more likely to be on the road next to a driver talking on his cellphone than you are to a drunk driver. How safe do our drunk driving laws make you feel now? And if cell phone users are a greater hazard to the driving public, what is really behind the new "pretrial diversion" plan in Harris County?

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