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GHSA: Don’t Ban Hand-Held Cell Use in Cars

July 8, 2004

With recently approved hand-held cell phone bans taking effect in New Jersey and the District of Columbia on July 1st, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is reminding drivers that cell phones are not the only distractions they need to safely manage while driving.Hands-free devices do not mitigate the intellectual distraction; in fact they impart a false sense of safety as they encourage motorists to drive while carrying on a conversation, albeit on a headset.Last summer, research from a University of North Carolina study showed that reading and writing, eating, adjusting the radio, interacting with others in the car, grooming, as well as cell phone use, were major distractions. Employing in-car video cameras to observe how drivers behave, the study concluded that all drivers in the study had been distracted to some degree, 90% by something outside the car and 100% by something inside the car.One of the main reasons GHSA does not support the banning of hand-held cell phone use by motorists is a lack of relevant crash data. To address this need, GHSA and the Department of Transportation have jointly developed model data elements that include cell phone use and other distractions for police officers to use while investigating a crash. Currently, only 14 states list distractions on their crash forms, but GHSA is hopeful that number will increase as states revise these forms.To see a map of current state distracted driving laws, click here
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