Hang up and drive

May 6, 2011 – I put a lot of miles on my car over the past few days and that’s distressing.

Sure, the price of gas is ridiculous, but even more upsetting is that each time I looked into my rear view mirror the person in the car behind me was holding a cell phone to their ear.

Most people believe texting while driving is dangerous, but talking on the cell phone without using a hands free device is also distracting and just as dangerous. In my opinion, driving while holding a cell phone is equivalent driving under the influence of alcohol.

Unfortunately, the state of Pennsylvania disagrees. Or, at least they won’t pass a law that states otherwise. Hand held cell phone use is only prohibited behind the wheel in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre, Erie and Allentown. The rest of the state doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. Thankfully our neighbors in New Jersey and Delaware have made it illegal statewide.

Why Pennsylvania hasn’t followed is a mystery, considering traffic fatalities due to cell phone use in state were up in 2010, while elsewhere they declined.

Perhaps Pennsylvania law makers should take these statistics from Nationwide Insurance into consideration and rethink their strategy:

  • 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 the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
  • The No.1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
  • Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon)

Thirty years ago Mothers Against Drunk Driving began their fight to make our roads a safer place. Let’s not allow cell phones to take away all of the good work they accomplished.

Hang up your cell phone and drive safely … please.

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