If you drive an automobile and own a cell phone, odds are good that you have used your cell phone to either talk or send a text message while driving. Many cell phone users are conscientious about using their cell phones while driving, but many more are not, and do so on a regular basis. With over 260 million active cell phone accounts in the United States alone, the number of people using cell phones while driving is staggeringly high.
Studies have shown that a person using a cell phone while driving is more of a hazard to other drivers than a driver with a .08 blood alcohol level. It should be no surprise that cell phone use while driving will cause driver distraction. Dialing a number or entering text messages causes a driver to take their eyes off the road. Even having a routine phone conversation can take enough attention away from the road and other drivers to put the cell phone user into “auto pilot.” It is a common occurrence for a cell phone using motorist to have no recall or awareness of what happened on the road over the duration of a conversation.
Here are some other important facts to consider:
· Drivers who use cell phones are four times as likely to cause an accident.
· 73 percent of drivers talk on cell phones while driving and 19 percent send text messages while driving according to a 2007 survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
· Currently, Alabama has no law banning cell phone use while driving. As of July 2008, only California, Washington, Utah, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. have laws banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.
· Young drivers are most likely to use cell phones to talk or text while driving. A survey of teens indicated that “texting” was the most distracting activity they engage in while driving.
· Some studies indicate that hands-free cell phone use does not significantly lessen risk. Reaction time is still compromised with hands-free phones, and hands-free phone users have to redial more often, causing further distraction.
The number of recent lawsuits and settlements finding employers liable for their employees’ use of cell phones while driving for work-related communication is on the rise. Significantly large settlements have been paid out in recent years by some corporations. Thus, many companies have since banned any such activity.