Driving Under the Influence of a Cell Phone

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Driving Under the Influence of a Cell Phone

Dameatrius McCreary, age 5 was killed when he was hit by a driver that had reached down to pick up a ringing cell-phone that had fallen to the floor of the car. Dameatrius had just gotten off a school bus that was dropping him off. The school bus was parked, had its warning lights flashing and a stop sign out when he was hit by the vehicle (11 Reasons to ban). Each year in the United States, talking on a cell phone while driving causes an estimated 2600 motor vehicle-related deaths and 330,000 moderate to critical injuries (Lissy). Driving is a complex task at the best of times. A driver speeds up and slows down, steers, changes lanes, scans the road for hazards, checks mirrors, merges, and brakes. When in traffic, drivers must process a great deal of information in a very short time. Talking on a cell phone while driving greatly impacts ones’ ability to drive safely. Despite the known risk, many people still use a cell phone while driving. Cell phones are not only cognitively distracting, but they affect peripheral vision and cause reaction time to become much slower. By banning cell-phone usage while driving, the number of deaths and injuries could be decreased significantly. Lawmakers need to push this issue into law before more innocent lives are taken. Some people feel they are experienced enough drives and have the ability to drive and talk on a cell phone. My brother thinks he is the best driver in the world. We have had many discussions on how dangerous it is to focus more on your phone than on the road. He feels that no amount of talking on the phone or texting is going to be detrimental to his driving. I have found this common attitude with many of my family and friends who drive with the phone stuck to their ear. This behavior is not due to a lack of awareness of the dangers. They truly believe they are in control of their environment and overestimate their own ability to drive safely while talking on the phone. This superman mind-set clouds their way of thinking. In fact many people know that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, and some even consider it more risky than eating or putting on make-up in the car. In a focus group, held in 2000, benefits of driving while talking on a cell phone were discussed. Some of the argued benefits were to, “expand productivity for commuters, improve mental alertness, and diminish the tendency to speed (Lissy 44). In another study conducted in 2002 by Hammond and Horswill showed “drivers with a high desire for control were more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors than were those with a low desire for control” (Schlehofer 1108). It is this high desire for control that causes drivers to overlook the danger that is involved in talking on the phone and focus on what they are able to accomplish while doing it. It is true if you talk on the phone while driving you will probably get more accomplished, but is it worth the risk? Talking on a cell phone is a cognitive distraction plain and simple. Several studies show that a driver paying attention to a conversation on a cell phone is distracted simply because he is paying attention to the conversation, reducing the attention he is paying to driving and what is going on around him (Ropeik and Gray 71). Not only is talking a distraction, but today our phones are loaded with applications, which usually require two hands to operate. We have all witnessed drivers that have one hand on the wheel and the other hand typing, or driving with their knee while texting. When your hands are holding your phone, or dialing or receiving a call, they’re not holding the steering wheel or helping to control the vehicle. Think of the last time you came upon someone driving in the left hand lane while traveling under the speed limit. A lot of the time they are talking on their phone. Many times they merge into your lane and never realize that you are even...
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