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Obviously, cell phones play a significant role in society today. However, due to our increased reliance on them cell phones can pose as many hazards as they do conveniences especially while driving. Many believe that cell phone distractions are a greater risk than any other driver distraction because talking on a cell phone while driving demands greater concentration for a longer period of time. First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing. Second, people can become so absorbed in their conversations that their ability to concentrate on the act of driving is severely impaired, jeopardizing the safety of vehicle occupants and pedestrians.

Texting while driving is an even bigger concern. A survey released in November 2010 by the Insurance Research Council, found that 18 percent of drivers, mainly teens and young adults, reported texting while driving in the last 30 days. Another survey found that teens believe drunk driving is more likely to cause a serious or fatal accident than texting.

Over the past decade numerous studies have been conducted on driver inattention, in particular focusing on the use of cell phones. Below summarizes the findings.

  • Motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
  • Banning hand-held phone use will not necessarily improve safety if drivers simply switch to hand-free phones.
  • Talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, including even using a hands-free phone. Drivers who talked on hands-free cell phones were 18 percent slower in braking and took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.
  • Almost 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds of the event and the most common distraction is the use of cell phones.
  • Drivers generally spent nearly five seconds looking at their cell phone before a crash or a near crash, a period long enough for a vehicle to travel more than 100 yards at typical highway speeds.

In September 2010, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its third-annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which reported that 52 percent of drivers felt less safe on the roads now than they did five years ago, citing distracted driving by those who text and drive as the biggest concern. The study also showed that although nearly 90 percent of teenage drivers were aware that talking or texting on a cell phone while driving was dangerous, they still engaged in such activities. How is it that they still do not understand the risks? Strong advocates against banning cell phones believe the supporters are focusing on a single manifestation of distracted driving and banning it. They say this ignores the endless sources of distraction and relies on banning one source or another to solve the whole problem. Others believe that we were given this new technology to use it. They are often used to combat boredom. There is a time and a place for everything and driving is not the time to be talking on the phone or texting.

The last thing anyone needs while driving is a distraction. We need to focus not only on the road ahead, but the road behind us and on the sides. Don’t be like the 17-year-old girl who said “I know I can get pulled over while texting and driving, but I’ll be done by the time a police officer stops me. It’s not like he can smell texting on my breath.” A police office never stopped her and she never finished her last text.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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