The risks of driving with a cell
phone are small when compared to the other risks
faced while driving. Emergency situations, drunk drivers,
falling asleep on the road, and worried drivers can
pose greater threats to drivers on the road.
When a drunk driver is free to roam the road, the threat
to other drivers is increased. The authors at Harvard
have estimated that the average risk of being killed
by a driver using a cell phone is 6.4 in a million per
year. "That is 80% less than the average risk of
fatality to a driver with a blood alcohol level of .10%."
Drivers with wireless connections can quickly dial-up
help so that others can be kept safe.
Many accidents happen when a driver falls asleep at
the wheel. Most of the time, the person is alone and
there is no communication with another passenger. Cellular
phone users can call up a friend or spouse to pass
the time and keep them from falling asleep. When using
hands-free devices*, the driver feels like they are
merely talking with a passenger. The driver is able
to stay awake and prevent an accident. *(Now days all
of the major cell
phone companies like Nextel, AT&T,
Mobile and Sprint
have hands-free devices available.)
When faced with an emergency situation such as an accident
or a crime scene, cell phones can save lives.
Wireless services allow drivers to be "good Samaritans"
to others. The driver can quickly call 911 and alert
police to the scene.
One study done by Harvard, noted "that
the cost of banning cellular phone use while driving
is about $700,000 for each quality-adjusted life year
saved. That is 30 times more expensive than achieving
the same public health benefit with driver airbags,
and ten times more expensive than achieving that benefit
by keeping the speed limit on interstate highways at
55 instead of 65 MPH." According to this study,
banning cell phone use would be more to our detriment
than benefit. www.harvard.edu/press/release/press0724000.html
Peace of Mind
A driver with quick access to a cell phone can have
peace of mind. If you have car problems, a flat or run
out of gas a cell phone can be a life saver. There is
less worry about road rage drivers because a person
can protect themselves with a phone call. Parents can
contact children at home and feel assured that they
are safe. Drivers can also call to ensure others of
their own safety and that they are merely running late
or have a few more errands to finish.
Before we are too quick to ban the use
of cell phones while driving, we should realize
what the ban could potentially cost. If you had a teenage
daughter on the road, would you be more worried about
her using the cell phone or the other potential dangers
she might face on the road? In this world, I wouldn't
want my children driving without a cell phone and the
phone service available. The solution I believe
should be more about education, when and how to safely
use a cell phone while driving. Just a few things to
think about ...
Catherine Duke, B.S.
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