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Wednesday
Feb252004

Crash Test Cell Phone Dummies

A new Slashdot article claims that “A University of Utah study claims that drivers who use a cell phone will be ‘more impaired than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08.’ The study also says that use will turn a driver who is age 20 into age 70. Hands-free systems apparently don’t help much either as they still require a driver to ‘actively be part of a conversation.’ What about in vehicle systems like OnStar?”

Hmmm.  What about people who listen to music?  What about dashboard drummers?  Or air guitarists?  Is there a study out there to figure out how many accidents these people cause?  I suspect that fishing for CDs, switching stations and rocking out in the car causes as many accidents if not more than cellphones.  Apparently, I’m not the first one to have this thought, since there was a hullabaloo in Washington a few years ago over just this issue.  According to this article, fiddling with radios, air conditioners and other in-car devices is far more likely to cause an accident than your cell phone.  The article cites a 2001 study by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center, which “…revealed that only 1.5% of traffic accidents were causedby drivers distracted by cell phones.”

Some people, apparently, have no problem talking on the phone while driving.  This begs the question “Why not license some people to drive with their cell phone?”  There could be a little sticker on your driver’s license, right next to the ones that say “prescription lenses required” and “organ donor.”  Of course, this wouldn’t stop people from getting into accidents while driving, but at least the state could make some money off of them, since this “cell phone endorsement” would cost money and be an extra class, just like a motorcycle endorsement.  And for those who really screwed it up?  Let’s hope it says “organ donor” next to “registered cell phone user.”

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