Cell Phone and Automobile Accidents on the Rise

By: Peter Kent

Wireless communication has dramatically improved daily life, but mobile phone technology also has a dramatic downside: the proliferation of cell phone use by drivers has made the roads considerably more dangerous.

Cell Phones are a Leading Cause of Driver Distraction

A joint study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in April 2006 concluded that nearly 80 percent of car crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes occur within three seconds of some kind of driver distraction. Dialing a cell phone ranked among the most dangerous distractions, tripling the risk of being involved in an auto accident. However, while dialing was extremely dangerous, the study discovered that merely having a conversation on the phone while driving was less of a hazard than reaching for a falling object or driving while drowy. However, the prevalence of cell phone use by drivers makes it the one of the most common - and therefore most dangerous - factors in car and truck crashes. Currently, as per the NHTSA, there are more than 10 million U.S. drivers talking on cellular phones at any given moment, an alarming figure given the link between cell phones and distracted driving.

Cell Phones Bans on the Rise

In response to the increasing evidence linking cellular phone use and auto accidents, a number of states have started to ban their use on the roads. States with legislation restricting cell phone use while driving include New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut. In 2008, California will join the ranks of states banning hand-held phone use by drivers. In November 2006, it was determined by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) that there were 14 statewide bans on cell phone use by minors operating an automobile.

Hands-Free is No Safety Guarantee

Many drivers have switched to hands-free mobile phone devices in an effort to cut down on their risk of being involved in car accidents. However, recent evidence suggests that even a hands-free cell phone presents a danger on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study conducted in Perth, Australia in 2005, switching from hand-held cell phones to hands-free devices does not reduce the risk of car crashes. Another study conducted by the University of Utah, and published in the summer of 2006, the issue of human factors also concludes that hands-free cellular phones carry the same risk as hand-held phones. Research is being conducted on how high the risk is of hands-free mobile phone devices are -- as many claim that the driver is more concentrated on a conversation via the phone than on their driving skills.

It is advisable for an individual who has just been in an automobile accident a driver's cell phone use increased the chance of the wreck occuring, contacting a personal injury lawyer could be beneficial. Upon contact with an automobile accident attorney, you will likely receive a consultation on your case and how potential monetary compensation can be derived.

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