Never Ever Use Your Mobile Phone While Driving

December 16, 2011, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Earlier, it was only ‘do not drink and drive’. Now that technology is the new intoxicant, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is telling you not to use mobile phones while driving.

They have got some numbers for those who cannot just understand the seriousness of the issue.

A total of 3,092 people died in 2010 as the result of distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or texting.

Though it is less than the 5484 deaths in the previous year, a direct comparison is not valid as the agency has changed the way in which it categorizes accidents.

Many states have laws against handheld cell phone use and texting while driving, a driver survey by NHTSA found that about half of drivers are still making calls from their phones, and 10 percent are still reading text messages.

Also, NTSB’s five members recommended that all states ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices, other than those designed to support the driving task, for all drivers.

The recommendation also includes hands-free and Bluetooth devices. It is both the visual and cognitive distractions and the manual distractions, that we are concerned about, said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman.

Nine states have banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving, and 35 completely ban texting while driving. And, 30 states and DC have banned the use of cell phones by rookie drivers. But there are no statewide laws anywhere in the US banning all cell phone use while driving though.

There are doubts regarding the effectiveness of the ban though. For instance, GPS is an integral part of a smartphone; and studies have found that have found that GPS systems and electronic touchscreen systems for car entertainment systems can be as much of a distraction to drivers as cell phones, like the case of a Megabus in Syracuse crashing when the driver drove his double-decker bus under a low bridge while following his GPS, killing four passengers and injuring 24 others.

Even if there was a strict ban on using electronic devices while driving, it is not going to be enough to save the lives of all the travelers out there.

According to a study by NHTSA, 7,000 crashes in 2009 occurred due to conversation with passengers.

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