Why All Cell Phone Use While Driving Should Be Banned

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Part 1: A Problem Exists
Is society numb from hearing about one fatal accident after another that was caused by distracted driving? When I turn on the news in the morning, the two things I listen for are the weather and the traffic. While brushing my teeth, I say a silent plea that the idiot that will cause today’s major back-up has decided to take the day off. It is sad that it seems society has gone numb and is more focused on their personal comforts than to take a second look at the reasons why too many of these accidents occur in the first place. We know how bad drunk driving is and society finally did something about the issue by creating laws against it. But what laws are in place for distracted driving, more specifically cell phone use while driving?

In 2010, the National Safety Council released a study that shows 28% of all car accidents in the U.S. are caused by cell phone use while driving (“Car Accidents Due to Cell Phone Use,” 2012). This means that one in every four accidents is due to driving while on the phone. Currently only ten states and the District of Columbia have bans on handheld cell phone use while driving - California, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington. Thirty-four states have varying laws from bans only for texting, to bans of cell phone use only for certain age group, to limiting the ban to just bus drivers. Four states – Montana, South Dakota, Ohio, and Florida do not even have any bans on distracted driving. We should be doing more to address this growing issue by getting all the states to adopt a law that bans cell phone use while driving. All states should pass a law that bans cell phone use while driving.

Distracted driving due to cell phone use is becoming a key contributor to car crashes ending in fatalities. According to U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (2010a) there were 5,474 car related fatalities on the U.S. roadways in 2009. Out of these fatalities, 995 incidents involved a cell phone as the cause of inattention (FARS and GES). This trend is fast becoming a problem very similar to accidents caused by drunk driving which, in 2009, made up for 32% of all car crashes in the country. Are we going to wait until this issue has reached epidemic proportions? California passed the law prohibiting talking on a phone while driving on July 1, 2008. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (2012a) in the last two years that the law is in place, fatalities linked to cell phone use is down by 47%. Nine other states and the District of Columbia think that this is a serious enough issue to adopt a statewide ban on cell phone use while driving. The other states should follow suit before more lives are lost. In addition to lives being lost due to using a cell phone while driving, this also cost the American people billions of dollars in lost or damaged property. An article by Catherine Clifford (2008) CNNMoney.com staff writer, says “that according to AAA, auto accidents cost Americans $164 billion a year.” If twenty-eight percent of all car accidents is due to cell phone use while driving, then this problem is costing American people close to $46 billion a year. This is an expense most of us cannot afford especially in these economic hard times. According to research done by The University of Utah psychologists, “driving while talking on a cell phone is as bad as or maybe worse than driving drunk” (Strayer, Drews, & Crouch, 2006). This study also showed that there is no difference in the reaction time for drivers who were talking on a hand-held device and drivers who were using hands free device (Strayer, et al., 2006). The Foundation for Road Safety Research (SWOV) in Netherlands is the national scientific research institute for road safety. Their fact sheet says that “An ample majority of the studies conclude that hands-free phoning has no significant advantage...
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