Technology is constantly becoming more and more modernized. Phones, which were once thought to be only a household item, have advanced so greatly that there are now wireless phones that can be used almost anywhere. Their already high tech features are constantly being improved to attract more buyers than ever. Not only can people have deep conversations while on the road, but they can play games and browse the web as well. As great as a cell phone and its features may seem, they can be dangerous when used behind the wheel. Driving while using a cellular phone, whether it be simply chatting or texting, distracts the driver thus making the driver a danger to others on the road.
Many argue that a cell phone takes only one arm away from the wheel, none if using a hands-free device, and that many drivers only use one arm to drive anyway, thus proving that cell phones can not be blamed. As risky as driving with one hand on the wheel can be, that is not the main threat the cell phone use poses to other drivers. “The problem with cell phones is not one-handed driving, the problem is unthinking driving–driving when your mind is miles away,” says B. Frankley Mackey, who sent a letter regarding this issue to the New York Times. “The act of listening, registering what you are hearing, and mentally structuring a response and talking diverts the driver’s attention from the wheel.” So, the one-handed driving is not the issue (“Phone” A26).
The effects of driving while on a cellular device can be so harmful that they can be compared to driving while intoxicated. According to psychology professor David Strayer PhD. and his colleagues, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk . Driving drunk (blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher) is against the law in all U.S. states and Washington D.C. thus revealing that it is very dangerous to the driver as well as others on the road. Strayer also issued a driving simulator test to random drivers ages 22-34 which clearly revealed that drivers were slower to brake and to accelerate after braking while on a cell phone, whether it be hand held or hands free (Strayer 381-391 ). These are some of the same driving characteristics that an intoxicated person may exhibit. Another study released from the University of Utah demonstrated that the reaction of young adults talking on cell phones while driving is as slow as the reaction times of senior citizens (“Virginia”).
Talking on the phone is not the only distracting attribute of cell phones. Recently, text messaging has become more popular than ever and has been the leading cause of numerous recent car accidents. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous in the fact that it forces drivers to take both eyes off of the road (“New Jersey”). Teenager, Patrick Sims, hit a bicyclist and father of two while replying to a casual text from his friend. He stated, “Jim Price is not around anymore because of me. I still think about the accident everyday.” Sims now spends his time telling his story to area high schools in hopes that those teens will not make the same mistake (Schindehette 121).
Many states are beginning to do something to minimize the number of accidents caused by cell phone usage behind the wheel. Since 1999, every state has considered legislation related to driver use of wireless phones. Considering that all 50 states have attempted to do something about this problem, the problem must be major. Seventeen states have passed law regarding mobile phone use while driving and at least seventeen states now track mobile phone involvement in crashes. By limiting or cutting out cell phone use entirely, the road can be made a safer place.
Cell phones are dangerous when used behind the wheel because they distract the driver thus making the driver a threat to others on the road. According to the 2003 article published by the Harvard center for risk analysis it is estimated that cell phone use by drivers may cause about 2,600 deaths, 330,000 injuries, and 1.5 million instances of property damage in the U.S. per year (Khasru 37). As cool as using a cell phone may seem, the phone conversations people have or the texts that they send are not worth an accident or human life.