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Cell Phone Addiction and Distracted Driving

Some people imagine that texting and driving is dangerous because of the moments your eyes are off the road and at least one hand is off the wheel. For these people, hands-free devices are an easy solution to the car accidents caused by cell phone use. Unfortunately, the issue appears much more complicated than that. Distracted driving is a problem that extends far beyond the problem of one-handed driving.

Research has analyzed the driving records of 384 psychology students over a period of three years and compared it to their responses regarding cell phone attachment. The more attached the students were to their phones, the more likely they were to get into car accidents. The survey found that the people who were least addicted to their cell phones averaged roughly 25 car crashes per 100 people per year. Those most addicted averaged 38 car crashes per 100 people per year. It should be noted that all the survey participants were younger people and thus suffered from the elevated risk of car accident that comes from being inexperienced drivers.

The research also indicated that it was not necessarily the act of texting or talking on a cell phone that posed the danger. The danger comes from not paying attention to your driving. Those who were most obsessed with their phones were likely to get into an accident because they were thinking about checking their messages or texting a friend, rather than focusing on safe driving.

Distracted driving is obviously a hazard that needs to be addressed in some way. It has been compared to drunk driving in the impact it has on a driver's ability to respond quickly and correctly while behind the wheel. Like drinking and driving, it may take more than laws passed against it to make a difference. People must change their attitudes about the acceptability of cell phones and driving.

Source: The Atlantic, "Can Simply Thinking About Your Phone Lead to a Car Crash," by Brian Fung, 30 April 2012

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