Cell phone use may dial up crashes
A new study, released in February 1997 by the New England Journal of Medicine, might have you putting some distance between yourself and drivers busy talking on their cell phones. University of Toronto researchers discovered:
- Cell phone users were four to five times more likely to have crashes than non-users.
- Cell phone units that allow the hands to be free offer no safety advantage over hand-held units.
The main factor in most motor vehicle collisions is driver inattentiveness.
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), there are 100 million wireless subscribers today, which is more than 36 percent of the United States population. While convenient, using cell phones while driving can be hazardous. The American Automobile Association offers these tips:
- Make sure your phone is mounted where you can easily reach it while driving. The phone should be within comfortable reach in your usual driving position and as close as possible to your line of vision.
- Know all the operations of your cellular phone, and learn to use it without looking.
- Keep your attention on the road by programming frequently called numbers into the phone's memory to minimize dialing.
- Dial sensibly. Wait for a stop light, pull off the road to dial, or ask a passenger to dial for you.
- Don't use your cellular phone in distracting traffic situations. Pull off the road to make a call.
- Be careful about where you stop to make calls.
- When calling 911 to report an emergency, be prepared to provide the closest major cross streets or off-ramps, and know your cellular phone number.
- Use your voice mail to take calls or leave yourself messages. Never take notes while driving.
- Disconnect your cellular phone when using jumper cables; the power surge could burn out your phone.
A few states actually regulate cell phone use, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Oklahoma and Minnesota require police to include cell phone information in accident reports. Several countries prohibit cell phone use while driving including England, Switzerland, Spain, Australia and Italy.Police suggest calling 911 from your cellular phone only in true emergencies:Emergencies
- Unreported collisions
- Any life-threatening event
- Any crime against you or another person
- A vehicle or object blocking traffic lanes
- A suspected drunk driver
(Do not use 911)
When you dial 911, the call from your cellular phone is routed to the appropriate emergency response authority.
- A stalled vehicle off the roadway
- A broken-down vehicle that is not a hazard
- Winter road conditions
- A stolen vehicle when nothing is known about the suspected thief
- Asking for directions
- Testing your phone
You must be prepared to provide:
- Exact location of vehicle in distress
- Nature of emergency
- Your name and cellular number, including area code