Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Over 2600 Will Die This Year

No, I am not talking about the Iraqi war. According to the Human Factor & Ergonomics Society, people who drive while talking on the cell phone will cause 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States this year. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis says the death toll may actually be as much as 8,000. Isn't the loss of from 2,600 to 8,000 people enough for the government to take some action?

I know some state governments have passed some laws requiring that cell phone use in a car be done with the "hands-free" variety of phone. These laws will not work because they ignore the real problem. This assumes the problem with a cell phone comes because it is being held. This is just not true. The New England Journal of Medicine says, "units that allowed the hands to be free offered no safety advantage over hand-held units". It is the conversation itself that provides the distraction to driving.

HFES says, "Drivers look but don't see, because they're distracted by the conversation." They go on to say that these cell phone drivers are "less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08". These drivers have an 18% slower reaction time, and it takes them 17% longer to get back up to speed after slowing down. And this is not just new cell phone users. The National Public Services Retail Institute claims, "Prior experience with cellular phones appears to bear no relationship to the distracting effect of cellular phone use".

I am sick and tired of these cell phone drivers making the highways more dangerous for everyone. I know that some of you are going to claim you know how to talk on the phone and drive at the same time, and pose no risk for the rest of us. Bullshit!!! I've never met a drunk who thought he was too impaired to drive either.

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