A national safety group is advocating a total ban on cell phone use while driving, claiming the practice is clearly dangerous and leads to fatalities. The National Safety Council is addressing the cell phone use while driving issue for the first time.
It says that all states should ban drivers from using cell phones (hand-held and hands-free), and that businesses should prohibit employees from using cell phones while driving on the job.
Our car accident lawyers’ primary concern lies with safety of all car drivers and passengers on the road, so they are pleased to hear that the National Safety Council is finally taking a stand on this issue because cell phone usage causes automobile accidents.
Janet Froetscher, president and chief executive of the National Safety Council, likened talking on cell phones to drunk-driving, claiming that cell phone use increases the risk of a car accident by four times. They are also similiar in that cell phone accidents and DUI accidents are preventable.
“When our friends have been drinking, we take the car keys away. It’s time to take the cell phone away,” Froetscher said.
Currently, no state bans all cell phone use while driving. Only six states — California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington – as well as the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Also, 17 states and the District of Columbia restrict or ban cell phone use by novice drivers.
But even so, officials from the National Safety Council acknowledged that a total ban could take years.
Our car accident lawyers believe that all states should enforce a total ban on cell phone use while driving. The states listed above have all taken measures towards preventing cell phone use while driving, but the incomplete bans on cell phone use still cause thousands of car accidents every year. When only handheld cell phones are banned, people may switch to using headsets for talking, but a major component of the problem with talking while driving is the inattention to the road, not just the driver’s hand or hands leaving the steering wheel.
As for only banning cell phone use in cars by novice drivers, that law is just endangering the safety of veteran drivers. No matter how much experience a driver may have, inattention to the road as well as taking hands off the steering wheel is just brewing a recipe for a ghastly car accident.
“Public awareness and the laws haven’t caught up with what the scientists are telling us,” Froetscher said. “There is no dispute that driving while talking on your cell phone, or texting while driving, is dangerous.”
Froetscher states the council examined more than 50 scientific studies before reaching its decision. One was a study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis that estimates 6% of vehicle crashes, causing about 2,600 deaths and 12,000 serious injuries a year, are attributable to cell phone use.
“Hands-free cell phones are just as risky as hand-held phones,” she added. “It’s not just what you’re doing with your hands — it’s that your head is in the conversation and so your eyes are not on the road. “It’s not just what you’re doing with your hands — it’s that your head is in the conversation and so your eyes are not on the road.
What makes cell phone use distinct from other risky driving behaviors, as Froetscher states, is the magnitude — there are 270 million cell phone users in the U.S. and 80% of them talk on the phone while driving. Our car accident lawyers believe the stakes are too high to risk, because wrongful death is the penalty. The sooner there is a nationwide ban on all cell phone use while driving, the better.
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