Safety and OSHA News

Should cell phone use be banned while driving?

A national safety organization that championed mandatory seat belt laws is now calling on governors and legislators in all 50 states to ban cell phone use while driving.

The National Safety Council (NSC) is advocating legislation to ban all types of cell phone use on the road, including hands-free usage.

Now, six states have bans on driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington. It’s also banned in the District of Columbia, and at least five other states have cities and towns with bans.

The organization acknowledges that it’ll take a long time to get all states to pass such legislation, so it’s also urging businesses to enact policies prohibiting the practice.

The NSC notes results of several studies to back up its call, including:

  • Drivers are at a four times greater risk of a crash
  • Cell phone use contributes to 6% of crashes, and
  • The annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes is $43 billion.

Anticipating some of the arguments against cell phone bans, the NSC admits other in-car activities are more dangerous than using cell phones. However, the group says as cell phone use has become so prevalent, it has become more dangerous overall.

Also, studies show that hands-free devices don’t make cell phone calls while driving safe.

What’s the difference between talking on a hands-free phone and speaking with someone else in a car? Unlike the passenger sitting next to you, the person on the other end of the call is oblivious to what’s happening around the driver on the road. The passenger provides another pair of eyes and can help keep the driver alert.

Do you think a total ban on cell phone use while driving is necessary? Does your company have a policy banning your employees from using cell phones while driving for business? Does that ban include hands-free usage? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

The NSC has set up a Web page with resources and data at http://distracteddriving.nsc.org.

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Comments

  1. Steve Trimble says:

    Banning cellphones is well and good and probably a fine idea–except for the inconvenience to those of us who can walk and chew gum at the same time. But it doesn’t address the larger issue of plainly stupid drivers, for whom cell phones are just one excuse for bad driving.

  2. Imelda Kelly says:

    Cell phone use regardless of wheter it is hand held or a head set is a distraction to a driver. The only way to protect the public is to ban the use while driving. If it isn’t banned totally someone will creatively come up with a way to use it without a head set or handheld.

  3. Cell phones are simply too distracting even for those talented enough to drive and chew gum simultaneously.

    Reaction times are impeded and your attention is now divided between the phone, caller and operation of a 5000 pound or larger vehicle with a considerable amount of kinetic energy.

    Unless the communication device is built into the car and designed to operate as a vehicle accessory much like a radio or winshield washer control….I don’t see much hope of reducing accidents attributable to phone use – mainly from those less endowed with intelligence as Steve suggests.

    Unfortunately, we are sometimes our own worse enemies when it comes to having legislation enacted to “protect us from ourselves” and this is one perfect example. Hard to argue with the stats and I bet everyone knows of at least one accident caused by using a cell phone while operating.

    So DUP – (Driving Using Phone) ?? Check out ice4safety.com for safety posters on driving and using ICE – a free public service by safety professionals.

  4. My company is planning to institute a no cell policy. It will be difficult for us, because we use cell phones for dispatch purposes. We will establish a common sense, enforceable policy this year, regardless of the status of legislation, because we believe the risk of cell phone use outweighs it’s convenience.

  5. Someones mom says:

    What about putting on makeup while driving? Drinking coffee while driving? Reading the newspaper while driving? Kids and pets in cars are a distraction also. Where does it stop? I agree some people cannot multi-task, but where do we draw the line of government interference? We can’t stop people from drinking and driving, let alone cell phone usage.

  6. J Stachowiak says:

    Total ban would be a good thing, although enforcement is a whole nother story.

    Even if you can walk and chew gum at the same time, gum chewing is an unconscious activity. Talking on a phone and driving are not. People who think they are as alert talking on a cell phone and driving are probably the same people who think one, two or three drinks doesn’t impair their driving either. You’re just fooling yourself.

    Next time you’re talking on a cell phone and driving, once you hang up, try remembering how many stop lights you just went thru.

  7. Ban them. I follow many drivers, of all ages, who start slowing down considerably or start swerving in traffic when they are looking for their phones to answer them, to call someone, or to text someone. This inturn causes a chain reaction behind them of everyone else braking. Cell phone use and driving is a distraction no matter who is doing it. I don’t care how many years experience that person has driving. You are not taught to drive a car while talking on a cell phone in drivers ed, so why do it? Also I think if a person is caught, their driving licence should be suspended for 3 months minimum.

  8. I live in Washington state, so we already switched to the head sets. Overall, I have not seen too much improvement because driving while talking on the phone without use of a head set is a secondary offense, so they cannot pull you over for it. You have to be speeding or weaving or something else for them to pull you over and then they can ticket you for both offenses. I still see people with phones agianst their ears all over the place. I, myself bought a $80 headset and find it handy to use while at work or out shopping. It’s nice to have your hands free, but talking while driving is still very distracting.

  9. Perfect….DUP (pronounced “DUPE”) for driving while using phone, can be the new V&T Section cited by police after the accident…..

  10. Bob Guinter says:

    All cell phone use by drivers should be banned and rigidly enforced. As a safety professional some of the most egregious driving errors I’ve ever seen have been done by drivers while talking on the phone. I have personally seen the following scenarios: a driver drift off the road and go up on the sidewalk at full speed; another driver sitting at a green light oblivious to the signal while in a heated discussion and then going through the light when it turned red as if it were green; drivers drifting in and out of lanes unaware of where the lines are and speeding up and slowing down erratically unaware of their speed; a driver making a right on red without seeing the pedestrian crossing straight in front. So it is not like walking and chewing gum at the same time. Gum chewing is an automatic motor skill that, once learned, is relegated to habit and does not require any significant amount of cognitive resources that could interfere with driving.

  11. Steve Trimble says:

    Okay, my “gum-chewing” reference was inexact. But I know I am capable of driving well and talking on the cellphone at the same time. I do limit my conversations, and I consciously pay extra attention to the road while talking. And no, J Stachowiak, I don’t think I’m fine to drive after having a drink–i’m aware of the physical impairment that occurs.

    Having said that, yes, I too see drivers who commit egregious errors while driving and talking on their phones. I am not opposed to a ban. But a rigidly enforced vehicle cell phone ban will strain our resources and add to the “nanny state” mentality. It’s a trade-off.

  12. Cathy Sowers says:

    It seems that if they are looking at the ban of cell phones, the same persons should look at the navigational systems also. It seems they could also become distracting but then again so is being lost.

  13. Rick Bleier says:

    As I recall, there were similar arguments about truck drivers listening to the radio in the early days of having radios available in vehicles.

    Most of the time driving takes only a small part of our conscious effort so we get bored. Then we do something else to stay awake. The issue is not the use of the phone, but how the phone is used. If you are having a heated argument with your passenger you are as distracted as if you are on the cell. You should pull over in either case.

    There is no substitute for a well trained driver who knows his capabilities and operates within them.

  14. Ron Sessions says:

    I am a Trainer for a large company and we stress not to talk on your cell phone while driving. Example if you are in an intence conversation, it is like trying to drive while counting backwards by three’s. Start at the number 628 and count backwards by three’s to 400. Then youu will see how counting backwards requires most of your attention (cognitive capacity). What is left is a small amount of attention to focus on the driving environment. Your ability to process information is on overload leaving no room for more information. Always focus first and foremost on driving.

  15. Steve T. we drove and got along without cell phones for years. If you need a cell phone that’s fine but put it away while your driving. It shouldn’t be a big deal for you users to do that.

  16. Well-meaning people are again using the police to correct a problem that is a matter of individual behavior. You can’t legislate good behavior. The vast majority of people who drive safely will pay the consequences for those who don’t have good driving habits and who are the same ones who won’t obey any new law. Another impingement on individual freedom of the many who were smart enough to buy into hands free or pull over and talk. The ones who will be caught will be seen on the highway on long straight stretches on cruise control with little other traffic and little danger to themselves or others. Meanwhile the teenagers texting their friends while they drive through stop signs in the city will get away with it because enforcement won’t happen there. How do you enforce a ban that includes hands free? How can anyone tell you’re talking on the phone? I want the police on the tail of the drunks and drug dealers, able to respond to break ins and violent crime – not collecting more fines from otherwise law abiding, safe, responsible adults who know their limitations.

  17. I am opposed to the government regulating everlything we do. How does one regulate stupidity? What laws can be enacted to prevent the stupid from getting behind the wheel of a car? Is enacting a cell phne ban while driving the best way to keep unsafe drivers off the road? I think education is the answer and public awareness campaigns can be quite successful. Let’s be proactive, not punitive!

  18. Robert. you can tell how their talking on their cell phone by how the person hand is positioned on the side of their head and by their erratic driving at the time.

  19. William A Ferry RN MS CPHRM says:

    We all have horror stories about bad behavior behind the wheel of the car. One patient in my Emergency Department was balancing her checkbook while driving; she fortunately didn’t kill any one in the wreck, but did break both legs and one arm. So now we should have DWBCB in addition to DUP! As a former smoker, I’ve dropped my share of lit cigarettes in my seat while driving (DWS: Driving While Smoking, not to be confused with Driving While Stupid – or maybe synonymous?). The data I am familiar with points to driving and eating as a much more serious contributor to adverse events on the roadways. At some point we have to acknowledge no law will fix stupid.

    Change the law so that if one of these behaviors is the issue in play, the individual goes to jail, his or her insurance is not obligated to pay the liability, and they forfeit driving privileges 5 years (second offense you forfeit privileges for life).

  20. People, if there’s a chance that more innocent people are going to be hurt by people driving while using cell phones than not, then why would you want to take that chance and hurt others? I don’t understand what this world is coming to. All that people do now days is think of themselves. How selfish.

  21. Linda S. it’s not about the stupid or unsafe. It’s about everyone. you shouldn’t judge others cause I’m sure you’ve done a stupid or unsafe act just like the rest of the people in this world.

  22. I’m with Bill and his 3:30 post. We all drove for years without a cell phone glued to our heads. How people got so attached to cell phones is beyond me. If you have a call to make, wait until you are stopped or better yet, when you are at home or in your office. And don’t even get me started with texting while driving. I go out of my way to not use my cell phone in my car (or much in general). I know I am more distracted if I am trying to drive, shift and use the phone so I just decided I won’t use the phone when I am in the car. There isn’t any call or text that is so important it can’t wait until I can pull over or get to my destination before making. As for work, we are considering putting an entry in our policies about not using the phone during driving. Our technicians are out on the road daily but we can leave a message and they can return the call when not moving in the car.

  23. Cell phones do appear to be a distractor, whether for a motor vehicle operator, pedestrians, or train engineers. The one -to-one nature of a phone conversation with one party who does not participate or have a direct involvement in the the safe operation of the vehicle provides the opportunity for decreased attention to driving on the part of the vehicle operator. Try reading an interesting e-mail while talking on the phone, you may find yourself not hearing what the other party is saying! Driving requires that you receive and process information from your surroundings and when you are involved in a converstation that requires receiving and sending information that must also be processed, you are probably exceeding the ability of our normal ability to handle information well. Rember that that 80% or so of communication is non verbal. In a phone conversation you have less information to interpert the words that are spoken and thus we tend to focus more on the conversation to understand the intent of the communication. We, as a society, should limit the use of phone use while driving, although the means to accomplish this will need much thought and research. That is a challenging topic of its own.

  24. So, bottom, Driving Using Phone (DUP), Driving while Eating (DWE), Driving while Stupid (DWS), Driving While Texting (DWT) or Driving while Primping (DWP) all constitute less than optimal or unsafe behaviors while driving.

    Given the chance, our nanny state government would likely impose a ban on them as well for our ultimate “protection”. The real reason will be to reduce our freedoms even further and exert more control for the control freaks now in government. One aspect we all seemed to overlook is that operating a motor vehicle is a Privilege not a Right.

    As a former law enforcement officer, driving instructor and current safety professional, I can tell you that you can outlaw stupid all you want, but you will never be able to effectively enforce or prosecute those laws so that they will have any impact (no pun). Without the certainty of punishment or the will of government to assign responsibility, it will just make a mockery of the whole idea.

  25. From my own experience driving with a car full of small children is a thousand times more distracting that taking a call on a hands free phone. Are we going to ban transporting children?

    I just bought a 2009 Prius with built in blue tooth. It lets you answer with a button on the steering wheel, or make a call out with speed dail. manually entering phone calls is disallowed while the car is in motion.

    Personally, I think having technology move forward to making cell calls safer is more appropriate than banning something which cannot effectively be banned.

  26. William A Ferry RN MS CPHRM says:

    While minimizing the risk to others of bad behavior is certainly desirable, I have to agree with Mr. Balduzzi; legislating against bad judgment is unenforceable. Enacting unenforceable legislation introduces contempt for and a willingness to disregard those (and other) laws. Imposing significant consequences for the outcome of bad behavior is enforcable.

    When Driving While Intoxicated resulted in another’s death, our District Attorney began prosecuting the offense as 1st degree murder; Lo! And Behold: the DWI rate in our county went down.

  27. You said it Mark Balduzzi “operating a motor vehicle is a privilege” only when not operating while eating, texting, calling, etc. Anything else beside operating is a hazard.

  28. When someone kills another while using their cell phone while driving, that should be 1st degree murder.

  29. This goes for police, fire and ambulance personnel too right? I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve seen cops talking on their cell phones in traffic, at a stop light, driving all around town. And at these times they were NOT pulling someone over, going to an accident, have their lights on – they were breaking the law just like a lot of us do. They should be punished too but by whom? An average citizen or their superiors? NEVER gonna happen.

  30. Bob Guinter says:

    Some say a law like this could never be enforced. That may be true. But an outright ban across the USA would go a long way to making people understand it is simply not acceptable behavior. Primping, eating, smoking, drinking coffee, etc. I agree can also be distracting. But not to the extent that a phone conversation often becomes. If current academic research on the subject is correct, indicating that driving while talking on the cell phone is equivalent to driving while intoxicated, then the penalties should become commensurate. Let those who are caught doing it lose their licenses for a while. And let those who cause accidents while doing it take full financial responsibility for their damages. Insurance companies should refuse to pay claims for cell-phoning drivers who cause accidents. And cell phone companies should be sued by those that are injured. They have the technology to stop it, they know it is a hazard equivalent to DUI, and they continue to provide the service without any actions or warnings. They collect huge profits for services which could be considered equivalent to liquor companies providing alcoholic beverages directly to drivers in their cars.

  31. Ban them. Anyone who thinks they can talk on a cell and drive is fooling themselves. We need a hard and fast rule with no gray areas. We need to set the tone for our younger drivers. We need to think about others besides ourselves when we are on the road. Any company that requires cell phone use while driving should be sued at the first chance. They are guilty of ‘profit before safety’. As far as bad behavior, you’d have to ticket us all. Those that drive bad due to cell phone use only exasperate those of us who want to get home safe. Road rage is on the increase. Unfortunately, it will probably be 2020 before anything gets done with all our procrastinators called ‘Congressman’.

  32. Stop the madness, people! The use of a cell phone while driving a vehicle should be as a result of an emergency, not the cause of such. If you can’t control yourself (as we know many people can’t), then please pull to the side of the road or into a parking lot. Let’s get the use of cell phones while driving banned in EVERY state. The sooner, the better.

  33. Tommy Hanson says:

    Yes. A good safety and auto program should include banning cell phone use while driving. It does not matter if it is hand held or hands free, either way the operators concentration is focused on the conversation and not the driving.

    Phone conversation is different then conversing with another person in your car. While talking to a person in your car you can visually see that person and the brain does not have to invent an image. While talking to a person on the phone, your brain is working harder trying to keep up with the conversation, visualize the person you talking to and thirdly trying to process the points of the conversation. POP (Pull Over Policy)

  34. Bill, I think you have made a religion out of safety. Chill, it’s a discussion.

  35. Sorry Ben, But I think name calling or labeling people does not need to be in this discussion because it’s about everyone not just a certain few. Whoever drives while using a cell phone will be putting others in harms way at one point or another.

  36. Tommy Hanson says:

    Amen, brother Ben. Sorry, its a hot topic for our company right now. For the most part, most of our people are pulling over. We still have a few that have not grasp the idea. These are the ones that have the worst driving record (not because of cell phones).

    Is anyone’s insurance carriers pushing this?

  37. Gary Busch says:

    I don’t believe that talking on a cell phone is any worse than other distractions. People eat, read, play music, use maps and GPS units. All are equally distracting. Cell phone use is just the new bandwagon. Did you realize that militairy pilots talk on up to three different radios while checking radar navigation equipment and dodge rockets while flying. That should be banned also don’t you think

  38. Dottie.

    I agree with you to a point. I am a cop, and I too drive while using my phone, in limited circumstances. We have found them to be a valuable work tool. At times, I have had the complainant in an offense X-fered straight to me for information while enroute to their call. We also have incorporated their use over the years into our communications system for sensitive information that we did not wish to be heard over scanners. I limit my use, and instruct my staff to do so also.
    We drive while talking on another instrument (radio) all the time. I have been doing so for over 26 years, and haven’t had a wreck or even a close call because of the radio or cell phone.

    P.S. Some small, 1 or 2 Officer Departments have a daytime dispatch office, but calls are rolled over to the duty cell phone after hours. At that time, you are talking straight to the cop.

    Just go hands free as we are doing, and leave it at that. Inattentive or Negligent driving is already a crime in almost all states, and can be cited as the proximal cause of an accident as well.

  39. Bill – excuse me for not making it clear that my comment was an observation, and obviously not name calling or labeling by definition. I am only observing that the comments which go from “cell phone bad’ to “it is first degree murder”, indication an adherence which is much like that seen amongst some fringe elements in some religions.

    Rather than be reactive and try to enforce an insanely un-enforceable law; might we better serve those whom we profess to protect by being proactive? I believe the anti-smoking campaign is an appropriate example.

    Smoking is not illegal, but through the power of peer pressure we have seen a decline in smoking related products and sales. Due to exaggerated commercials and other influences, it is no longer “Cool” to smoke and we observe people being much more cautious and considerate when “lighting up”. Businesses have started no smoking campaigns, and prohibited the use of smoking products on their premises. Health care has provided incentives for people to Change Their Behavior.

    Ultimately I feel the NSC can better use their time and (my) money, campaigning on the proactive platform of behavior change, rather than wasting said time and money lobbying politicians to enact laws their constituents don’t want.

    As a safety manager, I am enacting a ban on cell phone usage in company vehicles, and on our premises. I have written the rules, and set policies in place. I say enacting because we are in the midst of our employee reeducation on cell phone usage. During this reeducation, we are sending information to our employee’s families in hopes of leveraging the power of family peer pressure.

    Now everyone knows; You don’t drive and talk on the cell phone.

    This isn’t the only way, but proactive is infinitely better than reactive.

    Hope this has added to the discussion.

  40. Gee, another technological nuisance! Lets not out law so many behaviors, lets increase the punishment for such driver’s that cause mayham on other drivers. Paying fines is great but absolute jail time evens the playing field for offenders.

  41. I think banning cell phone use is absurd. I personally use a hands-free device for talking in my vehicle. Personally, I think that playing with the car stereo, gps(tom-tom), dvd players, EATING or drinking while driving, yelling/and or entertaining your children in the back seat. I think all of those things I listed are far greater of a distraction than simply talking on your bluetooth headset. Before long we’ll all be behind the wheel, and as soon as we start our car up, a harness flies out of the steering wheel and secures us to our seats so we can barely move. Just enough to steer the wheel and move our head freely.

  42. That’s a good idea Pauline, if that’s what it takes to keep everyone safe on the road. And until somebody, who’s using a cellphone, crashes into your car (heaven forbid) you’ll probably never see the light.

  43. Our company has just gone over our Safety policy regarding use of cell phone in vehicles and gone over the recommendations of our Insurance carrier, in regards to us of a cell phone we do not allow the use of a cell phone unless you are using a hands free. If you look at any thing done in a car while you are driving it is a distraction. You could be just day dreaming or any other activity. Just think of when a passenger yells out that you are about to hit something, you may still hit it or hit some other obstical that is along a road or street. No matter if you get rid of one thing, you will just have something else become the big bad “people killer”. Just remember if you get rid of all distractions that are man/woman made there is still the human mind and that you can never get rid of from behind the wheel of a car.

  44. Matt Richards says:

    If cellphone use is alright while driving then nobody should care if I set up my portable 6in. TV on the dash and watch a ballgame or something while driving home from work. I can watch the tube and drive, I’m an experience driver, I’m not stupid, I’ll never crash, An accident will never involve me, I’m perfect in every way, etc. So let it be that anything goes while driving, and if an accident happens that involves others so be it.
    This seems to be the attitude of the majority in this discussion.

  45. Steve Trimble says:

    This is obviously a very polarizing debate.

    One thing I don’t think many people are considering is that driving is DANGEROUS, no matter what the circumstances. Cell phones or no cell phones, people are going to get hurt and killed in accidents.

    That said, common sense must come in to play. Make it illegal to talk on a non-handsfree phone, and make it a primary offense–in other words, cops can pull you over just for observing you talking on the phone. This will reduce the number of people nonchalantly chatting away.

    If it can be proved that a driver was talking on a cellphone and caused an accident, add extra fines and other punishments (to fit the circumstances) on top. First degree murder? No.

    I still believe reasonable, responsible people should be allowed to talk on the cellphone while driving if they are capable of safely doing so, on their personal (non-company) time. But clearly, many believe that no one is capable of safely doing so.

  46. Steve, How do you know that Matt Richards isn’t a reasonable, responsible person who can drive perfectly fine while watching TV. The fact of the matter is that anybody (no matter who you are) may have to fumble around to answer it, or could drop their phone on the floor and be distracted and erratic while trying to find it. By doing this it could cause stress, anger, injury, or maybe even death to other drivers just because they felt they were exempt and that it could never happen to them. No body is perfect.

  47. I feel that such a law would be very difficult to enforce. Here in NYS cell phone use is permitted ONLY if a handsfree device is used. I still see a multitude of individuals holding cell phones and diving. If we elilminate cell phone use, will we also eliminate viewing the GPS and computer screens which are becoming more and more prevalent in cars? And how about all the other distractions such as lighting a cigarette while driving, drinking coffee while driving, driving with the family dog on your lap?
    Yes I’ve had near misses because other drivers were doing those things.
    I do not believe that hands free use of cell phones is any more distracting/dangerous than conversing with a passenger.
    One snowy day, I my car skidded off the road. My cell phone slid out of reach. Fortunately I was able to use my Bluetooth and the voice command feature to call for help. I would feel very insecure if I had to give up ALL cell phone use.

  48. I think anything that’s a known distraction from driving should not be allowed. There’s enough ignorance about driving, carelessness and driving under the influence. Cell phones just add one more obstacle for the rest of us to try to dodge!

  49. Yes they should be banned. If you have to talk to someone while driving then pull over because as long as you’re trying to listen to someone on the phone, you have become a hazard to everyone else on the road.

    It doesn’t matter if your hands are free or not because having to listen to someone takes the majority of your attention away from the road.

    For anyone that thinks that because they can walk and chew gum at the same time means they can drive and talk on the phone at the same time, you are a deadly error waiting to happen.

  50. Mark Balduzzi says:

    Here folks, take a moment and digest this information and use it to support your message against driving and phoning etc. From Safety Stand Down Week.

    There are four types of driving distraction:
     VISUAL – Looking for the cellphone.
     BIOMECHANICAL – Manipulating a device, such as dialing a phone number, or for those users of PDAs, formulating an email response.
     AUDITORY – Being startled by a ringing cellphone.
     COGNITIVE – Mind not on the task, thinking about something other than driving.
     HANDS FREE cellphones reduce VISUAL and BIOMECHANICAL distractions; however, they do nothing for the other two. More importantly, they do nothing for the COGNITIVE distraction. This being the most important task – concentrating on driving.
    Why cellphone conversations are mentally demanding:
     Cellphone users visualize or create in their minds an image of the person being spoken to. This takes mental effort and undermines the cognitive work of interpreting the driving environment.
     When you are engaged in a cellphone conversation, you have to listen to the other person, think about what they are saying, and plan your response. This takes away some resources which you would otherwise have applied towards driving.
     Cellphone drivers are trapped by social etiquette that will not let them drop, discontinue, or be unresponsive in cellphone conversations.
     Social conventions and habits govern expectations of how long we pause, how we respond, vocal tones and inflections, appropriate placement and expression of non-verbal cues (uh huh, um, oh, etc.), and levels of interest and engagement expressed.
     Stressful, emotional or important conversations are even more demanding, but even the mundane conversations will remove your concentration from the task of driving.

    Why cellphones increase drivers reaction time to hazards: Studies have shown that drivers engaged in cellphone conversations:

     Are four times more likely to crash than other drivers.
     Pose a risk comparable to alcohol impaired driving at 0.1 BAC – That’s above the legal limit of Canada of 0.8.
     Significantly have poorer driving performance whether measured by speed control, following distance or reaction time.

    A major study has been performed by University of Utah (Psychology Professor David Strayer 2001).
    Results:

     Reaction time while driving and using a cellphone is worse than the reaction time when driving under the influence. (Of course, neither is acceptable practice. The difference is that only one is currently against the law).
     The driver using a cellphone has traveled 14m longer than a driver with normal reaction.
     Drivers take longer to react to the traffic signals. They are twice as likely to miss a traffic signal when they are talking on the cellphone.
     Although hands free telephones reduce manual and visual distractions, cognitive distractions are still present.
    Why cellphone use while driving reduces your field of view:
     Eye-movement of drivers using cellphones is reduced to tunnel vision because they are concentrating on the conversation.
     Search also found that the tunnel vision caused by cellphone use continued well after the conversation ends. Perhaps because the driver is still thinking about the conversation.
     The study found that most drivers seldom glance away from the road when talking on the cellphone. You should move your eyes every 2 seconds to avoid tunnel vision.
    Responsibilities as a driver:
     Never take a phone call while driving.
     Allow passenger or voice mail box to take the message.
     In an emergency, pull well off the road to receive or send phone calls.

  51. Well that sums it up Mark. Cellphones shouldn’t be in use while operating a vehicle. Can Safety News Alert come up with a new topic we can discuss? It’s been about a month now.

  52. Editor’s note: There’s a new story posted on Safety News Alert.com every day. Feel free to comment on other stories!

  53. Speak frenkly I think talking on cell phones while driving it’s should be banned because if you want to talk on cellphone take a time and pull over and then you can talk on cellphone. I don’t care your driving experrience.Should banned it.

  54. This is a culture change that seems impossible, but don’t be discouraged. Yes We Can! Behavrioal change may require enforcement, but by who? The cops with their personal cellphones, work cellphones, cb radios, and laptops with database inquiries and aircards? Seems like the pot calling the kettle black. We have allowed this to become an accepted part of our culture. A change is plausible. Remember when people smoked in the grocery stores while shopping, or inside your office building. That seemed difficult to change.

  55. When can we recommend the ban on CB radios, it has been 40 years now.

  56. Mark Balduzzi says:

    All kidding aside, since this issue came up in various forums I have assembled a “tool box kit” of articles, posters, presentations and the like for both workplace and driving distractions.

    I have placed the distracted driving toolbox on the ice4safety website at http://www.ice4safety.com and am currently in discussion with the “Stay Alive Just Drive” folks in Florida…..they have an effective public outreach program that addresses distracted driving – imagine that!

    Link to these folks for more info http://www.sajd.org talk to Jay

  57. It seems to me that this is just another target to distract everyone from the fact that this is all a matter of behaviors and decisions. Just like outlawing guns, then only the outlaws will have them. Take for example the fact that Alcohol related traffic fatalities are far more prevelant statistically, even though there are relatively extensive penalties for those who choose to do so. Taxes and bans on cigarettes simply because of studies, that were completed without an accurate control group (by the way, you don’t see them putting the taxes and bans on alcohol do you). Where does it stop. It seems that the knee jerk reaction is to attempt to legislate, personally I am for education and attempts at behavior modification. The fact is that whether cell phones are banned or not their use will continue for those who choose to do so regardless of the penalties imposed, they will just attempt to hide it better and perhaps cause increased problems due to anxiety and/or paranoia because now they are worried about who sees them. Take for instance speed traps, red light cameras, toll booth violations, etc. Does the legislation significantly reduce the number of violations? Several others I think also hit it on the head when they brought up the other communication methods utilized such as radios, cbs, and computers. What are the thoughts on those, I know that I never had a hands free communication cb, or high band radio, or computer in my patrol car. They all required hands on operation. Perhaps the solution is to understand the “root cause” of the problem. Then work toward mitigation such as integration into vehicle systems, requiring training (driving schools, etc.) to be updated as changes are made (just like OHSA compliance). We are all to eager to move toward the legislation or administrative control rather than look at the first two steps in risk mitigation which are: 1) Is it necessary? If it is and/or you cannot eliminate it then: 2) Engineer it into the workstream in a manner as to reduce or eliminate the risk as much as possible.

  58. I think cell phone use should be banned unless you use handsfree wireless cell phones devise. I know I can make a call by tapping my headpiece and stating whom I wish to call. It is safer than turning my radio station because I do not have to look down. I agree most drivers who use a cell phone without handsfree not only do not pay attention to the road, but drive with there knees, slow down and overall do not pay attention. With wireless handsfree devises you can freely turn your head to look around you, keep both hands on the wheel, dial and hang up with a touch of the hand this while never taking your eyes off the road. As technology advances so do stupid people and it is not fair to punish those of us who are safe and use the technology responsibly.

  59. Jack McCleverty says:

    I agree with Steve. The law should be ” Driving impaired ” not cell phone ban. We have a local law that covers things like this. It includes people that fall asleep at stop lights, Do makeup, read newspapers, and any other things that cause drivers to not pay attention. Some of us cn actualy drive and talk on the phone AND chew Gum.

  60. monkeys chew gum and drive? some people shouldn’t drive period – doesn’t matter what they’re doing

  61. Bob Heath says:

    For those with the multi-task I can do it answer. There was testing done and driver on the line for being intoxicated handled a car better than cell phone user. Where does it stop, makeup coffee paper etc. When you are driving a car you need to pay attention and anything that impedes that needs to go away. Courtesy is another problem. Watched an accident in my rearview mirror Saturday. Use both lanes to merge point and then alternate merger. One women decided she would block the merge and tailgated vehicle in front of her. Traffic stopped and she rear end that vehicle. What for so she could get somewhere 15 seconds sooner. Police need to start looking at unsafe driving more than speed. Quit sitting on the side of the road making money from tickets and look for careless and reckless drivers.

  62. Ron McKenzie says:

    We instituted a ban on ALL cell phone use while driving either hands free or otherwise. This extends to if we are on a land line and talking to a client who is driving.

    The fact that it is just as distracting as eating, smoking or _______, actually proves the point. Why would you want to introduce a distraction? If it is just to save time or Money, we would never accept that as a reason in the field, why accept it in the car?

    Please no more laws and regulations though. We can lead the industry by example without more Nanny state rules. If it takes a law to make us comply, then we are in the wrong field. Doing the right thing should be our reason. The law should be the minimum requirement.

  63. Robert Karp says:

    Even with the Hands free only law in effect here in California, I still see people talking with regular cell phones, only now they take steps to hide that they are on a cell and their driving is erratic because of it.
    it.

    This is what they are teaching in Traffic School:

    That listening to someone on the phone takes 85% of your attention away from the road regardless of the device being hands free or not.

    That’s how much of your brain is required for the act of listening.

    Someone mentioned police talking on radios and cell phones while driving. They are required to keep their radio transmissions to a minimum. They make their report or acknowledge a call and then get off. They also minimize their cell phone usage. I have yet to see a police officer talking on a cell phone while driving.

  64. Safety Amy J says:

    Regarding the police – I’ve seen several of them in the metroplex talking and driving. It would be interesting to see the local p.d.’s fleet incident rate, and the analyses of the cause and effect of the incidents. I agree with Bob Heath “Quit sitting on the side of the road making money from tickets and look for careless and reckless drivers.”

  65. Shrmn8tr says:

    Hit someone and kill them while your using your cell and tell me you were as alert as you possibly could have been!!! While you are driving you should be concentrating solely on what you are doing. Your vehicle can be a 5000 pound instrument of death yours and possibly someone elses!!! It’s dangerous enough just driving why add another variable to the equation? As for enforcement of the cell phone ban, when calls are made time and date is recorded. If an accident occures during a call nail em to the wall (vehicular manslaughter, carless driving, driving while impared) !!! A good friend of mine was killed because a person chose to text while driving and ran a red light killing him. What about the engineer that wrecked the train in California while texting a friend. A cell phone ban can be inforced. I do not like the government taking away any right of choice but most people think it’s their right to drive and talking on a cell while driving is ok. Driving is not a right it is a privilege.

  66. Mark Balduzzi says:

    Shrmn8tr – sorry for your loss.

    Unfortunately it seems to always take this drastic an incident(s) to impart a message or make change – despite the obvious….it is slowly coming around to what you have written….there are far too many abusing the operating privelage in our entitlement laden society.

    Punishment has to take on two elements to be an effective deterrent – it has to be CERTAIN and it has to be QUICK. Only when that takes place will we see a marked drop in this unsafe behavior.

  67. No speeding and driving recklessly should be banned – yes I agree some people simply cannot do anything else but drive when they are in a car; but in California I would bet many accidents are caused by reckless driving and failure to yield and have nothing to do with the cell phones. When you drive too fast it is easy to exceed the speed rating of your tires too – I’ll bet some people don’t even realize tires have a speed rating or manufacture date. If your too dumb to drive safely then banning cell phones will just make it inconvienent for the rest of us who can drive.

  68. Mike,

    Yea, those speeders are making it inconvenient for those of us that can drink and drive too.

    Anyone that is talking on the phone and driving at the same time is safe to be around.

    The act of listening takes uses 85% of your brain. That’s 85% of your brain that is no longer focused on the road and motorists around you.

    Text messaging while driving is worse because with that you have 100% of your brain that is not focused on the road because they are looking at a tiny screen.

    Anyone that thinks they can are just legends in their own minds.

  69. Amen Robert!

  70. Robert,

    So we can’t talk while we drive now?!

    This is why so many of us hate having people regulate everything. Next you’ll want to hand out trophys to people who loose or regulate how much energy we use; wait your already doing that. Nevermind let’s go ahead and ban talking, afterall we deserve CHANGE:)

    Good Luck Enforcing It…

  71. Ben, I’m sure they didn’t teach you how to drive using a cell phone. If you need to talk, talk to your passenger. If you don’t have one talk to yourself. If your a Believer, the Lord is always there waiting for you to talk to Him. He’ll listen to even if your not a Believer. Ban cellphone use in cars.

  72. No ones going to enforce any law to prevent you from talking to someone in the car with you.

    However, many public transportation companies have signs in their vehicles asking you to not talk to the driver while they are driving. It’s a safety issue.

    You think about it. Many people when being talked to, have a tendency to turn an look at the person talking. They therefore do not have their eyes on the road. It’s those distractions that cause accidents that would otherwise have been avoided.

  73. If you will remember the article was about whether or not to ban cell phones. We all understand the reasons or concepts behind stopping cell phone use while driving. It’s the Mandating or Regulating that is the problem; it simply doesn’t work. That is exactly what I don’t want to see happen. You can look at most of the major peer-pressure movements and see they have a much higher success rate; Stop Smoking, Man Made Global Warming, our current President all have had tremendous success. This is exactly what we need and we Safety Professionals are just the people to implement it. Government is inept when it comes to these sort of regulations. The people who would have done it any way, do it. Seat belt have been mandated for some time now, but I still routinely pull people out of cars, and find them outside cars, that didn’t use their seat belt. In Texas we really started to see compliance when DPS started running their peer-pressure campaigns on billboards, T.V., and radio. Now your 5yo daughter tells you to put your seat belt on if you forget. Leave the Government out of it and lets fight this fight in our communities and workplaces; we will see much greater returns.

  74. Banning and/or stopping cell phone use while driving is the same thing. It doesn’t matter who gets it done. As long as it gets it done for the safety of others. Also seatbelts are not mandatory for anyone over 18 in New Hampshire the “Live Free or Die” state. And neither is wearing a helmet if riding a motorcycle.

  75. Ben did you say leave government regulation out of it but that President Obama was successful in arm twisting for our own good…maybe I misunderstood…..aren’t they one in the same?

    I mean he trades off one benefit against the other to get what he wants so I am not sure he would be a good example…..peer pressue – yes, ok….Obama…no thank you.

  76. According to NTSA and several other safety sites, a driver makes something like 180 decisions or is distracted 180 times every mile traveled. These decisions or distractions can include things as routine as checking the mirrors to more complex tasks such as changing lanes. Using a cell phone for voice or texting is certainly a complex tasks. Now consider that iwhen you are travelling at 60 miles per hour you are moving about 90 feet per second. If you take your eyes or your mind off of your driving even for just 3 1/2 seconds you’ve more than covered the distance of a foot ball field. Time yourself (at your desk of course) how long it takes you to text a couple of words with one hand (to simulate having one hand on the steering wheel.

    Point #2 as long as the law makers are also guilty of abusing the cell phone (voice or texting) they will not impliment or fully impliment a ban.

    Suggestion is to pass some kind of rule that if you are involved in an accident and it can be proven that you were at fault because you were engaged in a text message or cell phone conversation momements before or during the accident that your insurance company will not suffer the damage for your personal injury or physical damage to your vehicle.

  77. WE HAVE A POLICY NO PHONES WHEN A TRUCK OR CAR IS IN MOTION

  78. mark balduzzi says:

    The long term study of 10,000 drivers since 2003 by NHTSA has confirmed what SAJD, ICE and Safety professionals have said all along…that talking/texting on cell phones – with or without handsfree technology is just plain dangerous – and now it is proven to be deadly.

    4x as likely to cause an accident that someone whose BAC is .08! 945 Fatalities 240,000 accidents in just 2002 – I personally did a spot survey at a busy grocery store entrance and counted 48 of 100 operators using cell phones while driving……some near misses too.

    Do we still have an argument here? Maybe it was in another forum of the unenlightened “invincible” crowd (18-25) where doubters were chastised for thinking people could not do both drive and text.

    Is this the same age group that is responsible for the increase in deaths on our highways or does it span all ages?

  79. Michael L. Kearney says:

    Drivers are already multi-tasked while in motion in any type of vehicle. Think in terms of a “safety” circle-environment and all of the activity occurring within that 360-zone that a driver is responsible as well as maintaining alertness, focusing on the tasks at hand. Obviously the risk factor increases tremendously with city-type driving in comparison to highway travel. Cell-phone related accidents are preventable to say the least. Laws can be made, enforced, however, it does not cover the root cause of cell-phone related mishaps. Research has proven cell phones are an additional distraction (brushing your hair, applying make-up, using the mirrors other than their intended purposes). If it takes legislation, so be it. The individual driver is responsible not only to him/herself, but to their family as well as respect to others while driving. Be a good driver by setting good examples. There is nothing that important that any driver must use their cell phone while driving. Pull over in a safe manner, stop in a safe location, use your flashers, and only then conduct you cell phone business.

  80. When will we quit passing laws in attemps to correct bad judgement or behavor! Do we really beleive that the govement knows best and don’t the police have REAL crime to worry about?

    Instead of worry about these type of issues we should focus on what really matters.

  81. Barbara Hall says:

    I am amused by those who think they have not created limitations when talking on the cell phone. They are just fooling themselves. Distractions are the number ONE cause of accidents. The cell phone, along with all the other distractions listed are a problem. So try using some common sense. Hang up the phone while driving, put down the cigarette, stop eating and drinking, don’t put on your makeup, etc. Wake up people!

  82. Thanks Mark Balduzzi for your Feb. 10 comment. I will print it out and share with my adult children. I hung up on one daughter who called me on her cell phone while driving. When she asked why I was going to hang up I replied. “I don’t want to hear the car crash”. She’s never called me again while driving.

    I too live in Washington State and the law as written has no impact on cell phone use by drivers. To say bans have no impact should compare the statistics for the pre and post drunk driving laws or the pre and post seatbelt laws. With that said, I agree about all the other distractions brought up by so many commenters. We have too many laws that are too specific. I like combining them all under “No driving while impared” and list of examples noting it is not an all inclusive list of impairments.

    Some think it is crazy to have no laws because our freedom or that you cannot legislate behavior. All laws legislate behavior of some form even our tax laws dictate we must pay our taxes with the payment process being a behaviour. Laws dictates the accepted social behaviours of the collective society. Again, the problem with laws is they are too specific and thus too many for anyone to remember them all.

    The law banning cell phone use while driving has no impact on the personal freedom for those who use common sense to not use a cell phone while driving. However, the law protects us from those who practice bad behaviour.

  83. people are doing so many things when they drive do really know whats distracting them? How many people are in these studies and what is the margin of error associated with the study. smaller the pool the larger the error and by the way I thought we only used 10% of our brains our entire life. So does that mean that at 85% we are using 8.5 % of the 10%. I don’t even see the cell phone laws we have already being enforced and I think we should ask ourselves when enough is enough. Our legislature should pay more attention to our budget.

  84. We need to go back to root cause. We certify drivers everyday and give them a license to drive a motor vehicle on our city streets and highways without having proper training.
    Other countries go much farther in testing drivers before they get a drivers license.
    We don’t even have a section on sharing the road with other types of vehicles (18 wheelers, school buses). Bad driving will continue no matter the cause as long as we continue to give drivers license’s away so freely.
    We have to start at the beginning to affect behavior of drivers. The more that becomes acceptable, the more we accept.

  85. Robert Karp says:

    Steve L,

    The police are there to enforce public safety. If your activity while driving a car is such that can reduce your ability to drive safely, then you are a threat to public safety.

    Before they pull someone over to give them a ticket, they go through a formula to determine which driver on the road poses the biggest threat to the other drivers.

    They might see some one drive by at 80mph but see you drive by at 75mph talking on a cell phone. They will pull you over because they’ve calculated you as being the bigger threat.

    If they see someone weaving in and out of traffic but driving the speed limit and another car driving over the speed limit, they might pull the traffic weaver over first because their behavior poses a bigger threat to other drivers.

  86. Jack Clark says:

    Simply put anyone that thinks that it is all right to use a cell phone while driving can’t be thinking clearly. Ask your self; what age groups do you see driving and using the cell phone the most? Scary huh?

  87. Steve L says:

    As a retire police office I fully understand risk accessment. My point is our goverment spends far too much time passing laws on minor issues and over looking important one. Bottom line is people are responsible for there actions…… If a individual is endangering others by their actions they need to dealt with not the public as a whole. There are already laws on the books to handle this we do not need another one. ANY distraction is dangerous.

  88. Last year we implemented an policy banning the use of hand held cell phones in our company. It does however allow the use of hands free devices.

  89. Andy Bisesi says:

    Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 death and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year,driving while on the cell phone should be banned in every state.

  90. Fed up with the whole thing! says:

    Andy, so does eating while driving, reading while driving, messing with the radio wile driving and no one is banning them. Don’t blame cell phones for for bad behavior.

    Let’s really go out there, let’s ban cars then there won’t be any traffic accidents!

  91. i believe it should be a $500 fine (or more), this would give the police another reason to enforce it and it would send the message if you want to talk and drive its going to cost you. Even if ppl fight the ticket they will hopefully get off the phone in the future and tell their friends about their experiences. I cant believe how many ppl drive and talk, if you really pay attention its astonishing and they are typically driving erratically and pressing the brakes for no reason these are both signs of an intoxicated driver. It also seems they like to do this in the passing lane which just irritates me immensely.

  92. Robert Karp says:

    Fed up with the whole thing,

    Cell Phones and texting has become a major issue because they are most commonly associated with interfering with traffic. They pull out into on coming traffic without looking, they change lanes without looking, they hold up traffic while driving slower then the speed limit and they are at it for miles and miles.

    People eating, drinking and smoking don’t seem to be causing other drivers as much distress.

    Adjusting the radio doesn’t take much more time then turning on your headlights or windshield wipers.

  93. I agree with Ken’s comments about going to the route cause. But I go a step further have drivers retake the written exam to remind them of the rules of the road when they renew their driver’s license.

    But back to the cell phone ban…I say one law is all that’s needed simply stating it is illegal to drive while distracted. Observance of obvious distractions can be immediately fined others may need to be proven falling an accident. But we’ll can leave that to the courts on a case by case bases.

    One person talking on a cell phone in Seattle killed a pedestrian who was legally crossing the street in a cross walk. I would say the driver was obviously distracted and the court agreed.

    I would also like to see a guideline out there for common good cell phone ettiquette. People should only use the cell phone in a safe and private environment. I’m tired of hearing their conversations. One time a pedestrian talking on a cell phone while waling across a parking lot walk unexected in the path of my car. The 3rd time I honked at her. She looked at me bewildered wondering why I honked. She was clueless that I nearly hit her three times. Now imagine how she must drive while on the phone.

  94. Andy Bisesi says:

    I do believe that doing anything else while driving is distracting,there nothing wrong to pull over where is safe to do so and do whatever you need to do.but its not has much of picking up the cell phone that is distracting its the conversation.Has anybody read the Jacy Good story how she lost both of her parents becouse the other driver was on the cell phone and ran through a red light and only receive a violation for running a red light? We should try to tell her that some of us are good drivers while on the cell phone.

  95. Mark Balduzzi says:

    It appears that a technological solution of sorts is being testing in Beta Form in August by the folks at ZoomSafer (nice ring to that) whereby your phone would be programmed to answer calls while you are operating a motor vehicle and inform the caller that you are doing so.

    Other features remind the driver about the use of these distracting devices while operating and use celebrity voice messages to do so. Certainly when our smart devices are sophisticated enough to know when not to be used – like when driving – and can operate accordingly to restrict their use….maybe that might a good thing. This behavior modification process is going to take some time….

    Check out Mike Riemer’s safe driving website at http://www.zoomsafer.com

    http://twitter.com/Idrivefocused

  96. I absolutely agree that the use of hands-free and cell phone use needs to be banned. People have become so used to using their cells phones everywhere they go that they are oblivious to other cars and their actions while driving. I personally had three near miss accidents (nearly side-swiped) due to other drivers that were completely distracted by either talking on the phone or texting/dialing while driving. In one of these cases I had to actually blare my horn before the driver realized they were going to hit me. Then they acted like it was no big deal. These drivers are careless and don’t realize the seriousness of what could happen (death) if they caused an accident. Drivers are becoming more and more comfortable doing other things (personal hygiene, talking on the phone, etc.) that they don’t even realize they are distracted. This is a serious problem and, unfortunately, until it is banned everywhere lives will continue to be taken. It is a risk that shouldn’t be taken or allowed. It’s obvious to me that you shouldn’t text/dial while driving, but it certainly isn’t for everyone so it needs to be banned. That’s the only way to save innocent lives.

  97. Brian Lev says:

    Hands-free phones only? Good. Total cell phone ban? Stupid. Look at the average vehicle these days — sound systems with visual displays, trip computers, GPS units (often smack-dab in the middle of the windshield), extra-wide rear view mirrors, signs & shades & decals on the windows, big shiny CDs hanging from the mirror… I’d love to see a couple of studies done that take all the usual “stuff” into account without cell phones. As for the idea that a passenger is “an extra set of eyes” for the driver, my personal experience is that passengers are distractions and, except for the occasional “Nervous Nellie” or back seat driver, will notice only the most egregiously huge dangers and even then often when it’s too late to avoid a problem. What I’d love to see is a lot more emphasis on driver training so more people know how to actually maneuver their vehicles (as opposed to simply point ’em in a particular direction) and have a better knowledge of the rules. There’s no perfect solution (“If you make your system idiot-proof, they’ll just come up with a better idiot”) but a reasonably responsible trained driver is going to have much worse distractions than a hands-off phone.

  98. Hands-free devices are proven to be no more safe than using a cell phone without one.

  99. There are people who can not walk and chew gum at the same time. The cell phone isn’t the problem, it is the person! Training, as someone else mentioned, I beleive is key. I have had women tailgating, closer than one car length from my bumper at 70 mph, while she is putting on her make-up. People eating lunch…..people talking to others in the vehicle….all are obvious problems. As is typical anymore, the people who can “DO” are penalized by the deeds of those who “CAN’T”. There is NO perfect answer that fits everyone! Hands free is about as good as it gets.
    Here’s an idea….GPS to disable cell phones when traveling faster than a particular set speed?? Yuk!
    Another idea…put the driver in a partitioned off cab in the vehicle away from anyone else and designed to disable cell phones when in it?? double yuk!

  100. Brian Lev, Did you notice that everything you named was made to be part of the vehicle? A cellphone does not belong. Ban them all.

  101. Mark Balduzzi says:

    What part of “just drive” did anyone miss?

    We are talking about cognitive thought processes being interrupted. They are required to operate the vehicle safely and effectively.

    Take the analogy of a hard drive on your computer running a large complicated program and then asked to immediately do something else…….crash?

    Ok, well maybe the PC users can relate – but you get the point.

    Lee Iaccoca remarked about teaching people not to drive distracted in his book knowing the vanity mirrors and cup holders for the cars he made would be distractions….

    This is not new folks and anyone who claims they can do it all safely may very well be that “smarter idiot” referred to by Brian above.

  102. There are a lot of excellent points brought up here. One of the most frustrating is enforcement. My answer to that is that anytime there is a serious crash (we can leave that definition up to the law makers or NHTSA) that the driver(s) have their cell phone records turned over to the legal system. If it can be proven that they were engaged in texting or using the phone at the time of the accident or within one minute of the crash that they would be cited. The same requirement could also be placed on operators cited for reclass operation. Insurance carriers should also like this since they could cancel policies of people that are known to use the device while driving. Once there is an understanding that you could be cited for using the cell phone while driving, people will at least think before using it.

  103. Andy Bisesi says:

    wait a minute,aren’t we dabating the issue of “Death by cell phone”. We can avoid unneccessary risk-possibly even death.I know some of us can chew eat talk ect.on the cell while driving,but for me if it means putting down the cell phone while driving i will -to save lives .I’m for banning cell phones while driving,remember we are debating “Death by cell phone”
    Chuck in Germany the first thing they pull from you is the cell phone if you are involved in a auto accident.

  104. Susan M says:

    My 29 year old son pulled over in a business parking lot after hours to talk to me on the phone and who pulls in behind him but a Maryland State cop. I guess it doesn’t happen often enough that the cop had to check it out but how is eveyone going to feel when that happens to them? I can just see cars whipping over on interstates and causing accidents in order to answer their phones. Then of course you will have them trying to merge back in to traffic again causing accidents. It won’t be like the occasional flat tire on the side of the road it will be dozens of cars at any given time causing additional hazards on the roadways. Although I rarely talk on the phone in the car (hands free) I, for one, find that a conversation keeps me more alert if feeling a little tired than listening to a radio or even having the window open. I’ve driven by cars with DVD players on dashboards, dogs in the drivers lap, large articles hanging from the rear view mirror, and kids climbing the seats. People need to use common sense when operating a motor vehicle, simple as that!

  105. Andy.. I think that should be SOP in the states too. If that knowledge were known to the insurance carriers they would raise the rates of those with cell phone citations, much the way that they raise the rates of people with moving violations and seatbelt violations (we all know that a seat belt citation is the cop’s way of taking it easy on the speeder).

  106. Susan M, If your son is not doing anything against the law and he has nothing to hide, he shouldn’t be worried about the officer just doing his job. Also, just shut off the phone while driving, and you won’t be “whipping over on interstates and causing accidents” and then “trying to merge back into traffic”. Is your cellphone all you have in life. Ban them I say.

  107. Susan M and most of the others in this conversation bring up some good points and (I think) the bottom line is that people need to be held accountable for whatever they do or fail to do. Far too many times athe mind set is that the accident was caused by …… and not because I failed to realize or see ……..

  108. I love the comments about how “others” might have a problem using a cell phone while driving but “I” can do it safely.

    Studies have shown that cell phone usage degrades everyone’s ability to drive safely. Those who think that it doesn’t affect their driving are deluding themselves.

    I see this in my friends as well. The folks who insist they are just fine using their cell phones behind the wheel drift over the line, slam on the brakes at the last moment, or speed up and slow down just as much as the ones who admit that it affects their ability to drive safely.

    The arguement that “people should just use common sense” is great, but the fact is that people don’t. Thus the need to ban cell phone use while driving.

  109. Susan, Did it also occur to your son that the officer might have wanted to assure the driver was ok?

    No one supports pulling over to the shoulder on the interstate but rather pulling off safely at the next exit to a safe area to check voice mail or text messages. No one while driving needs to urgently answer a ringing cell phone.

    I too had an experience drive down a freeway going to a family emergency. I had called several people before getting in the car and they all called me back while I was driving alone. Each time I safely exitted the freeway and listened to my voice messages and made return calls. It can be a hassle I agree. How I handled it was to tell folks when I returned their calls if they did not answer when I would call again to discuss the situation. I then got back on the freeway for my distination further cell phone distractions. This is how a responsible person handles cell phones while driving alone in a car.

    No one needs to talk or text on a cell phone while driving.

  110. Thanks Thomas, Your statement that people don’t use “common Sense” is so true. That is the real reason communities have had to create so many laws.

  111. Hand heid cell phone should be gone. Other ones should not b/c 4 urs, family, and other people mite need ur help.

  112. Bridget, I don’t understand your statement. You didn’t text this while driving, did you? No cell phone is safe to use while your driving. All of them are a distraction.

  113. Rebecca Cook says:

    I think cell phone use SHOULD be banned while operating a motor vehicle. Too many people have already been killed. Why does one more person have to die because of a BIG cell phone mistake? The only reason you should use a cell phone in a car is if you DESPERATELY need too, like if someone has had a heart attack or something. The least someone could do is pull over THEN call or answer.

  114. OK so don’t regulate cell phone usage while driving—Sense when did revoking someones drivers lic stop them from driving. The fix is make the cost not worth the risk.

    How many people are killed every year due to drunk driving—yet the deaths continue–and we continue to give the issue LIP SERVICE as always and others refuse to acknowledge that it is a problem.

    why not just make the fine for being involved in an accident about $10,000 in stead of $20.
    Drunk drivers –Take their car and sell it–don’t give it back–
    send people to Jail -the jails are already full of drugees!

  115. RedSafety says:

    change the phone technology so that it does not work while in motion unless connected to hands-free device, if you want. Or just have it not work at all while moving. Now you are not legislating behavior but have engineered out the hazard.

  116. Brian Lev says:

    Changing cell phone technology to “not work while in motion unless connected to hands-free device” means I can’t use it while walking on the street, when in my home & I need a piece of paper on the other side of the building, or any of thousands of other possibilities. No, thank you.
    The problem isn’t cell phones in cars, the problem is the users. We’ve become so accustomed to multi-tasking that we expect to do it, no matter what. Cell phones are apparently a leading cause of traffic accidents, but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve avoided a collision by taking evasive action (and, in one case, ending up in a lesser “fender bender” myself) due to other drivers reading, talking, looking for something in the back seat, dealing with children in the back seat, not paying attention to surrounding vehicles, dipping french fries in ketchup, shaving(!), putting on makeup, reading the newspaper(!), reading a map, or futzing around with either a GPS unit or CD changer… all while in motion.
    As far as cell phones go, make them hands-free. As far as *all* distracted driving goes, step up enforcement and increase the penalties, make people more aware it’s going to hit their pocketbook as well as their privilege to drive, and maybe (maybe!) things will get better. I’d also like to see better driver training… Driver’s Ed in high school was one of the first things cut when budgets got tight, and renewing a license requires no real testing of any kind… I’d rather be inconvenienced for 15-30 minutes every few years on a retest than deal with the constant idiocy I have to dodge on the way to work every day (very little of which seems to involve cell phones).

  117. Bob Guinter says:

    Sorry Brian. You’re on the mark about what should happen with penalties for violaters but your analysis of distraction fails. The level of cognition required to carry on a phone conversation is very high and is constantly changing with the content of the conversation. And this is totally unpredicable. The level of cognition required to dip a french fry or skip a track on the CD is relegated to habit requiring very little of a person’s cogitive resources. If you are not seeing the problems cell-phone usage is currently causing on our roadways then you apparently are not looking. I see them around me virtually every day on my 25-mile commute.

  118. Hilary Brady says:

    yes i belive that this subject should be banned however banned or not this is not going to completely stop the use of cell phones while driving completely as seen when driving under the influence was made illegal. weve all seen the average teen with a cell phone if they dont have their cellphone with them they have a total melt down

  119. Bob Guinter says:

    Hillary: I made this comment very early in this thread but it is worth repeating here. The cell phone companies make a lot of money off their service. They have the technology to stop (or significantly reduce) cell phone use while driving a vehicle. But they choose to do nothing. This in effect is putting profits before safety. So I feel they should be sued for damages when their service contributes to an accident in the same way that a bar accepts responsibility for serving customers who become inebriated and then drive. So let them be sued and let the individuals on the other end of the conversation also be sued when their conversation contributes to an accident. When I speak to someone on a cell phone I first ask if they are driving. If they are, I immediately end the conversation and ask them to call me back when they are in a safe place. This should be everyone’s standard practice. And beyond that, let the penalties for drivers become commensurate with DUI penalties since the science has proven that the functional impairment to the driver is essentially the same.

  120. Here in Oregon as of Jan 1st 2010 hand held cell phones became a main reason for a pull over, bluetooths only. I think it is a $142.00 fine. Next door in Washington it is secondary. In Oregon if you are 16 or 17 years of age you can’t talk on a cell phone period while driving. After reading about company losses because of cell phone use I got the ok from my boss to write up and start implementing a new cell phone policy. No cell phone use hand held or blue tooth period while driving. We are a traffic control co. so this has been a little tough, if they have a partner with them they can answer the dispatch phone. If they are by themselves they are to pull over to a safe spot to call dispatch back. We got ahold of our contractors we work for to let them know about our new policy, because of the possible extended dispatch time. I do believe that cell phone use should be banned while driving!! I live in Washington so my 16 year old son and my soon to be 16 year old daughter are not allowed to use there cell phones while driving, this is a MOM and DAD rule. Washington does not have the same young driver rule that Oregon has.
    The co. losses I was referring to was information I got from a Safety Matters Vol. 2, issue 1 from the Evergreen Safety Council. In Pennsylvania an investment firm payed out $500,000 due to an employee doing business on his cell phone, he killed a motorcyclist. In Georgia a construction worker hit a car stopped to make a turn, that person was severely injured. He was reaching for his work cell phone. The co. he worked for settled out of court for $5 million. In Virginia an attorney killed a 15 year old girl who was walking along side the road. The attorney was fumbling with her phone while trying to take care of some additional business. She was found guilty of a felony, served one year in jail and was ordered to pay $2 million in damages. Because she was on co. time, her co. was also charged and sued for $30 million. A lumber co. employee while on his cell phone making a brief sales call gravely injured the passenger in the car he hit, that co. settled for $16 million. A large paper co. paid out $5.2 million to a woman who was rear ended by one of their employees while he was on his cell phone even though the employee had violated his co. policy by not using hands free head sets. The money does not come close to the pain of loosing a loved one, just to speak to someone on the phone. Do I go against my own belief,never if in a co. vehicle, but sometimes in my personal car. In one of the comments I read someone said that it’s the same as listening to the radio or talking to your passenger. Sorry but that is completely wrong, my experience with that statement is, I was on my cell phone one day after work going back over to Washington over the 205 bridge, it’s a long bridge, when I got off the phone I realized that couldn’t tell you what had been going on around me while I was on my cell. I was paying attention to my conversation, music is like back ground noise, it’s not something that you have to respond back to. A passenger is another pair of eyes and it puts you as a driver in a position, one on one responsibility for someone else. That rear end collision you just got into because you were texting or dialing or crabbing your phone or to involved in your phone conversation was probably do to someone else 10 cars ahead of you answering or texting or dialing their cell phone and to do that they unconsciously or deliberately slowed down. I have seen people pulled over in the emergency lane to talk on the phone I commend them. I did though have our co. vehicle insurance agent tell me that he was pulled over in the emergency lane on I-5 and had an officer pull behind him to see what he needed and when he told the officer that he was ok that he was off the road to talk on his cell, the officer informed him that this lane was for emergencies only. Talking on the phone while driving! This is a serious issue!

  121. I just had a neighbor who drives like a nut & is always on her cell knock on our door that she is sorry bec. she dropped her cell phone & was reaching for it on the car floor when she whacke dour mailbox like a truck wood. Split the thick wood post in half. Gee what of someone would of been there putting in or taking out the mail or pne of the kids riding their bikes.

  122. Not to worry Linda… our new government will be taking care of societal misfits like you describe by rewarding them with new jobs befitting their obvious lack of intellect and responsibility.

    On another note – programs already exist that can shut off calls to the phone when the owner is driving…you can buy them now….they work. ZoomSafer is one of them.

  123. Bob Guinter says:

    A news article in one of our local papers lately stated that 14% of our area drivers are using a cell phone or text-messaging device at any one time. That’s more than one in ten of all cars around us. And my bet is that very few, if any of these conversations are of sufficient importance that they require immediate attention. Conversely, I suspect that most of them are so trivial in content that they don’t warrant even making the call.

    I would like to see the penalties for driver cellular and text-messaging usage be raised to the level of DWI. First offence, loss of licence. Maybe that would get these people’s attention that this behavior is unacceptable.

  124. Yes they are a big distraction while driving. If the reports are accurate you have a greater chance of being hit by a driver who is using their cell phone than a drunk driver. However, this statistic is distorted be cause the number of people using their cell phone while driving is far greater than those who our driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. Enforcing a ban will be a major feat and I doubt if it can be achieved. If a ban is installed the ban should not be limited to commercial vehicle operators.

    Cell phones are not the only distractors. What about eating, drinking, talking to passengers, arguing with passengers, unruley kids in the back seat, reading a book or map. using a CB Radio, etc.

  125. I agree that it is a distraction as so many things are. However I think that banning talking on your phone entirely is a bit over the top. I think that if you have a bluetooth built into your car, it should be legal. This is a much safer option.

  126. Betti Stallbaumer says:

    We should just switch to head sets.

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  128. Lord, forgive me for what I’m about to say. I am an ardent foe of the Nanny State we in which we find ourselves. However, texting while driving is just STUPID! Since phones are GPS enabled, software should be installed to disable texting if the phone detects movement greater than 5 mph. Same for non-Bluetooth phones. Phone calls should be allowed at speeds greater than 5 mph only if the phone detects active Bluetooth communication which hopefully indicates handsfree talking.

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