Cell phone use while driving should be illegal everywhere because 1) it causes major distraction, 2) it can cause harm to the driver and others near the driver, and 3) it shows negative influence on young people.
In more ways than one, using a cell phone while driving has been proven to be a dangerous thing for people to do. The cases of fatal automobile accidents, related to cell phone use while driving, have risen dramatically over the past few years. The majority of these accidents are younger people, usually 25 years of age and younger. "A new study confirms that the reaction time of cell phone users slows dramatically, increasing the risk of accidents and tying up traffic in general, and when young adults use cell phones while driving, they're as bad as sleepy septuagenarians" (Britt). David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah says "if you put a 20-year-old behind the wheel with a cell phone, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone. It's like instantly aging a large number of drivers" (Britt).
The use of a cell phone while driving causes more negative incidents than positive incidents. It causes road rage from other drivers, traffic jams, minor accidents and even fatal accidents:
According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the journals publisher, cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year. . . . Drivers talking on cell phones were 18 percent slower to react to brake lights, the new study found. In a minor bright note, they also kept a 12 percent greater following distance. But they also took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked. That frustrates everyone. . . . Once drivers on cell phones hit the brakes, it takes them longer to get back into the normal flow of traffic. The net result is they are impeding the overall flow of traffic. (Britt)
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Now, after looking into more research, it seems that cell phone use while driving is more dangerous than most people make it out to be; teenagers seem to be the worst at this. The cell phone has many applications on them now days and some are more distracting than others. For example, a young girl is driving down the road at 55 miles per hour and her cell phone rings. She reaches across the car to grab it, takes a quick look at the screen to see who it is, looks back up and sees she is about to rear end another vehicle. Even though her reaction time is slowed from normal, she slams the breaks on just in time to avoid a major collision. Only minor damage is done to both vehicles and luckily no one is hurt. This young girl only took a quick look off the road, but still put herself and others in danger. Now, another young girl is driving down a road, in a school zone, doing only 15 miles per hour and her cell phone goes off as well, only hers is a text message from her boyfriend. She looks down at the screen, eyes off the road, same as girl number one, only her eyes are off the road for a longer period of time. She takes time to read the text, only to briefly look at the road, and looks back at the screen to send a text message back. With one hand on the wheel, one hand on the cell phone, texting, and her eyes on the cell phone, she hits a young child and her mother walking across the street. This accident just so happens to be a fatal one.
Next, let us talk about hands free cell phones. People may and probably will argue these are not dangerous or distracting at all, but in fact, they are just as distracting. Whether a person is texting or just talking, their concentration is broken. People think that if they are just talking and listening, with eyes still on the road, not taking them off, that they are just as alert as a driver not talking on a cell phone. According to Strayer and his colleagues, those people are wrong. This is what Strayer and his colleagues found:
In 2001, they found that even hands-free cell phone use distracted drivers. In 2003, they revealed a reason: Drivers look but do not see, because they are distracted by the conversation. The scientists also found previously that chatty motorists are less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08. (Britt)
A man named Arthur Kramer, who led an Illinois study, stated these words:
"'With younger adults, everything got worse, . . . . Both young adults and older adults tended to show deficits in performance. They made more errors in detecting important changes and they took longer to react to the changes'" (Britt). It was documented by Robert Roy Britt, the publisher of this article, that "the impaired reactions involved seconds, not just fractions of a second, so stopping distances increased by car-lengths."
A study, done by Strayer, showed the following results:
The latest study used high-tech simulators. It included people aged 18 to 25 and another group aged 65 to 74. Elderly drivers were slower to react when talking on the phone, too.
The simulations uncovered a twofold increase in the number of rear-end collisions by drivers using cell phones.
"Older drivers seem to be more cautious overall, however. Older drivers were slightly less likely to get into accidents than younger drivers," Strayer said. "They tend to have a greater following distance. Their reactions are impaired, but they are driving so cautiously they were less likely to smash into somebody." But in real life, he added, older drivers are significantly more likely to be rear-ended because of their slow speed." (Britt)
Not only is it a problem with the younger people using cell phones while driving, but older people as well. Even though, the older people had better reaction time, it is still dangerous, regardless. No matter how cautious a person is, a distraction is a distraction. It takes away from the important things that need to be focused on and still poses threats and dangers to all those involved.
Okay, let us focus on texting while driving. As said before, texting while driving takes a lot more concentration than just simply talking. Not only does it take a person's mental concentration away, but physical concentration as well, also known as the eye site. It takes more time to text someone than it does to simply answer a call. People are killed in fatal accidents due to the use of cell phones while driving and the rise in numbers is just ridiculous. In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a young girl's mother was killed, while driving, but she was not the person using the cell phone, the other driver was. A story, done on this accident, by Doug Warner from News 9, seems to have touched some people's hearts:
Jennifer Smith's mother was killed at a northwest Oklahoma City intersection less than a year ago.
"You never know how irreplaceable your mother is and how much of you your mother is. The day your mother passes away, you'll never be the same," Smith said.
Linda Doyle would have turned 62 this past Sunday. But on September 3, 2008, she was hit and killed on Northwest Expressway by a driver who was distracted by his cell phone.
"Every day I want to yell at people and tell them to put the phone down," Smith said.
Now Linda's smiling face is on billboards across the country including one along Interstate 40 near downtown, which towers above drivers who continue to risk "Death by Cell Phone."
"Awareness is always the best approach up front to see if you can get people to change habits, but some you're not going to get to," said David Koeneke with the National Safety Council.
Koeneke said the billboards aren't the perfect solution but are certainly a step in educating the public to the dangers of mixing cell phones and driving.
Smith, who often returns to her native Oklahoma City, hopes to help warn Oklahoma drivers and make a difference in the state by sharing the facts, like how texting and driving is considered worse than drunk driving.
"I don't want to be on the road with 100 million drunk drivers," Smith said.
Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas have all passed some level of cell phone restrictions. Missouri and Oklahoma have not. Smith said she isn't sure what Oklahoma is waiting on.
"In Oklahoma, I know all the bills have been thrown out or squashed, and I'm just hoping when they see the neighboring states are doing this, that they'll jump on board," Smith said. "It seems like you have to hear the horror stories before changes will be made, I'm afraid."
Horror stories like Linda Doyle's death by a cell phone.
"My mother is gone and I'm only 35," Smith said.
Chris Hill, who caused the crash, never served a day in jail, but he said he now lives with a heavy burden for the rest of his life.
"Right then, I was screaming, witnesses coming up holding me up because I couldn't handle it. I knew what had happened. I knew right then I had killed her," Hill said.
After reading a story like this, one would think it would convince more people to take more caution with using cell phones while driving. Sadly, it does not really do anything. People will show sympathy and say things referring to how awful it is that something like that happened, but just as soon as it is all said and done, the majority of them are already back on the road . . . using their cell phones while they are driving.
In addition to the previous statements, what other things are said about cell phone use while driving. For instance, the cell phone use, or as some call it, multi-tasking, has been referred to as "aggressive driving." Dr. Leon James says this about it:
There is a tendency to think that multi-tasking while driving is the cause of driver inattention or distraction. This belief leads to demands for new laws that restrict or ban the use of in-car communication devices such as phones and computers. But the correct argument is that multi-tasking can lead to driver distraction when drivers haven't properly trained themselves to use the new car gadgets. This is true for older devices like the familiar radio and CD as well as the new, like GPS, phones, and e-mail. So it's true that multi-tasking becomes the occasion for drivers to make more mistakes, when they fail to train themselves properly. This increased training is a joint responsibility of the individual driver and the government.
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Multi-tasking behind the wheel is a matter of degree and all drivers are responsible for determining when they need additional self-training activities. When drivers overstep this line, they become socially and legally responsible. Drivers who allow themselves to be distracted by their multi-tasking activities are increasing the risk factor for themselves and imposing that dangerous limit on others--passengers, other drivers, pedestrians. This increased risk to which others are subjected is thus similar to other driver behavior that are considered aggressive and illegal: going through red lights, failing to yield, exceeding safe speed limits, reckless weaving, drinking and driving, driving sleepy or drowsy, road rage, etc.
Even though Dr. Leon James believes this: "But the correct argument is that multi-tasking can lead to driver distraction when drivers haven't properly trained themselves to use the new car gadgets," the so-called multi-tasking should still become illegal. No matter how well-trained a person thinks they are at multi-tasking while driving, their concentration is still broken and taken away from the road. As soon as a person takes their eyes off the road to answer a call or respond to a text, they are automatically putting their lives and everyone else's lives around them, in danger. How many people are going to have to be seriously injured or even killed before people start to realize how dangerous cell phone use while driving actually is? People run red lights, break speed limits and go all over the road when intoxicated. The same things happen when people use cell phones behind the wheel, so what exactly is the difference?
The majority of automobile accidents, mainly during the daytime, are caused by the distraction of the cell phone. Jennifer Claerr published an article in May of 2007 about the dangers and effects of cell phone use behind the wheel. Jennifer found this:
A recent study has shown that while dialing was found to be the most common cause of crashes (one has to take his eyes off the road to dial) the simple act of talking on a cell phone, even on a headset, was a proven distraction and caused accidents. Cell phone users are four times more likely than non-cell phone users to be involved in an accident. In these studies, the conversation itself was as distracting as dialing or calling up messages. People who talk on a cell phone while driving develop an extremely narrow focus, and become unaware of many of the things happening around them on the road. (Claerr)
After taking a look at just this excerpt, it should make people think. There have been many people that have been either cut off, been hit, or have been close to being hit by a driver using a cell phone.
Claerr expresses another opinion of her own that most people should most definitely agree with: "A lot of advocates of cell phone use while driving cite that some studies have shown the total number of accidents and fatalities from cell phone use is small. However, they miss the point. Cell phone use while driving is a totally unnecessary activity, and if even only one fatality is caused by it, the practice is unacceptable."
As a result of people using cell phones while driving, kids, parents, and people of all ages are being hurt and even killed. How do people expect to drive safely when their attention is focused on other things besides the road and other drivers around them?
As a result, many people are hurt badly and even killed, on a daily basis because of the distractions caused by cell phones use while driving. How many fatalities are going to happen before people realize how dangerous their habits can be? How many children are going to have to lose their parents, or for that matter, how many parents are going to have to lose their children before this danger can be stopped? No one will ever know the answer. All that can be done, as of now, is to try the best ways that can be done.
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