Courtesy of iii.org
Mobile phones play an integral role in our society. However, the convenience they offer must be weighed against the dangers they pose. Their use contributes to the problem of inattentive driving, which also includes talking, eating, putting on make-up and taking care of children.
As many as 40 countries may restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving. Countries reported to have laws related to mobile phone use include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Botswana, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya , Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. Most countries ban the use of handheld phones while driving.
Proponents of driving restrictions when using a cell phone say that the distractions associated with cell phone use while driving are much greater than other distractions. Conversations with a mobile phone require greater continuous concentration, leading the driver's eyes off the road and his mind from driving. Opponents of cell phone restrictions say drivers should be educated about the effects of all driver distractions. They also say that existing laws that regulate driving should be implemented more strictly. Below is a summary of some of these studies.
Motorists using mobile phones while driving are four times more likely to crash seriously enough to injure themselves, according to a study by drivers in Perth, Australia, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Motorway Safety. The results, published in July 2005, suggest that banning handheld phone use does not necessarily improve safety if drivers simply switch to hands-free phones. The study showed that the risk of injury did not vary depending on the type of phone.
Many studies have shown that the use of handheld mobile phones while driving can be a dangerous distraction. However, the theory that hands-free sets are safer has been challenged by the results of several studies. A study by researchers at the University of Utah, published in the summer of 2006 by Human Factors, the quarterly journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, concludes that it is just as dangerous to talk on a cell phone while driving, even if the phone is a hands-free model. An earlier study by researchers at the university showed that motorists talking on hands-free mobile phones were 1
A September 2004 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that drivers using hands-free cell phones had to redial calls 40 percent of the time, compared with 18 percent for drivers using handheld devices, indicating that hands-free devices can give drivers a false sense of
A study released in April 2006 showed that nearly 80 percent of accidents and 65 percent of near-accidents involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds of the incident. The study, The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and NHTSA, broke new ground. (Previous research showed that the driver's inattention was responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the crashes.) The more recent study showed that the most common distraction is the use of cell phones, followed by drowsiness. However, cell phone use is much less likely to cause a crash or near failure than other distractions, according to the study. For example, the risk of a crash or near-crash increased by nine times when reaching for a moving object, such as a falling cup, but just talking or listening on a handheld cell phone increased the risk by 1.3 times.
] Employer and Manufacturer Liability: Although only a handful of high-profile cases have gone to court, employers are still concerned that they may be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations. in mobile phones. According to the doctrine of deputy responsibility, employers can be held legally responsible for the negligent acts committed by employees during employment. Employers can also be negligent if they do not implement a policy for the safe use of mobile phones. In response, many companies have established policies for the use of mobile phones. Some allow employees to conduct business by telephone as long as they pull over on the side of the road or to a parking lot. Others have completely banned the use of all wireless devices.
In an article published in the June 2003 issue of the North Dakota Law Review, attorney Jordan Michael proposed a theory about cell phone manufacturers' liability for car accidents if they did not warn users of the dangers of driving and talking on the phone at the same time. The theory claims that manufacturer liability would be similar to the liability of employers who encourage or require mobile phone use on the road. Holding manufacturers accountable would cover all persons driving and using mobile phones for personal calls. Michael notes that some car rental companies have already placed warnings on embedded cell phones in their cars.