Do Any States Restrict the Use of Cell Phones in Motor Vehicles?

Article excerpt

Cellular telephones are rapidly becoming a significant factor in highway safety. Surveys estimate that approximately 80 million people will own wireless telephones by the year 2000. Eighty-five percent of these owners use their phones while driving. Cell phones in motor vehicles help people conduct business, stay in touch with loved ones, call for assistance, report emergencies, convey information about hazardous road conditions, and report aggressive or drunk drivers.

Several studies, however, link cell phone use with increased driving risk. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that the distraction caused by phone use in motor vehicles quadrupled the risk of a collision during the brief period of a call, a rate equivalent to the impairment caused by legal intoxication. Other studies published in the British Journal of Psychology and by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have similarly concluded that mobile telephones--even if they are hands-free devices--can impair a driver's ability to judge safe stopping distances or anticipate hazards and can greatly increase the risk of a crash.

Despite the growing evidence of cell phone hazards, few states restrict their use in cars. …