Leo Sher, M.D.
Cell phone distraction causes nearly 3,000 deaths and more than 300,000 injuries in the United States every year. The U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that about 25 percent of all car accidents are caused by distractions. Dialing numbers, receiving calls and holding conversations on cell phones while driving impair the concentration required of motorists. Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at 0.08 percent. Multiple research studies have established correlations between cell phone use and accidents. Studies also suggest that driving while using a hands free cellular device is not safer than using a hand held cell phone. Therefore, it is hard to understand why many locations prohibit hand held cell phone use but allow hands free.
Nine States (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington), D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand held cell phones while driving. Many States prohibit all cell phone use by certain drivers. Thirty States and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. School bus drivers in 19 States and D.C. may not use a cell phone when passengers are present. Many localities have passed their own distracted driving bans. However, some States prohibit localities from enacting such laws. Thirty-four states, D.C. and Guam prohibit text messaging for all drivers.
Many countries including U.K., France, Australia, Norway, Poland, Israel, Brazil, Austria, Kenya, and South Korea banned cell phone use while driving.
A Federal Law prohibiting all drivers in all U.S. States from using all cell phones while driving should be enacted and enforced. It will save many lives.