Cell Phone and Driving - Breathing Space Blog
No amount of mitigation will diminish the reality that driving and talking on the phone is not as safe as simply driving. The vendors of cell phones and other vehicle gadgetry will argue that speaking to others in the car, listening to the radio, or engaging in other such behavior is equally hazardous. This is not true in any respect because of a concept known as sharp attention.
You can only give your sharp attention in one basic direction. Listening to the radio or CD, or speaking with someone in the passenger seat does not pose the same risk. The reason is that your sharp attention can continue to be on the road, and as practical, you can give some attention to the radio, CD, and the passenger in the seat next to you. However, at any given moment, your driving takes precedence.
This is not the case with the use of the cell phone — concentrating on the conversation on someone at a distance and driving compete with one and another. If activist state legislators get their wishes, people who hold a cell phone to their ear while driving may soon find themselves talking to a judge. That's the message that could come from more and more states considering legislation that would ban the use of handheld, wireless phones while operating an automobile.
The legislative efforts come in response to an increase in cell phone use while driving, hands free or not, which some politicians say has led to more vehicle accidents. Momentum for this cause has been building ever since The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in February, 1997, titled: "The Association of Cell Telephone Calls and Motor Vehicle Collisions." The article concluded that drivers talking on a cell phone are four times more likely to get into car accidents than those who aren't, and they are 11 times likely to die in an accident.
Multitasking in your car is not pretty. The message for readers: do not use a cell phone in your vehicle when the engine is on, and minimize conversation time with those who make such calls to you.