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Talking on a cell phone while driving...

Driver inattention is a leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for about 80 percent of all collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Considering crashes are the number-one cause of accidental death in the U.S., it is important to pay close attention to our driving habits and those of other drivers.

The National Safety Council is on a mission to:

* Alert the American public that different kinds of distractions have different levels of crash risk. Talking on a cell phone and sending text messages are much higher risk activities that occur for longer durations and with more people than most other actions engaged in while driving.
* Lead a change in our nation’s cultural norms, so people come to view cell phone conversations and text messaging while driving as unsafe and socially unacceptable. Calling for a legislative ban on these activities is the first step in a long-term process to educate Americans to their risk and change the culture.

Cell Phone Use While Driving
Fact Sheet

* Using cell phones while driving is a very high risk behavior with significant impact on crashes and society. More than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies have identified the risks associated with cell phone use while driving.

* Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash while using a cell phone. (1997 New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and 2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to cell phone records).

* There is no difference in the cognitive distraction between hand-held and hands-free devices. (Simulator studies at the U. of Utah.)

* Cell phone use contributes to an estimated 6 percent of all crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. (Harvard Center of Risk Analysis).

* 80 percent of crashes are related to driver inattention. There are certain activities that may be more dangerous than talking on a cell phone. However, cell phone use occurs more frequently and for longer durations than other, riskier behaviors. Thus, the #1 source of driver inattention is cell phones. (Virginia Tech 100-car study for NHTSA)

* It is estimated that more than 100 million people use cell phones while driving. (CTIA – The Wireless Association reports 270 million cell phone subscribers. A Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll showed 81 percent of the public admit to talking on a cell phone while driving).

* The annual cost of crashes caused by cell phone use is estimated to be $43 billion (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis).

* Talking to a passenger while driving is significantly safer than talking on a cell phone. (University of Utah)

* Many businesses understand the risk and are already taking action. Among NSC members that responded to a survey, 45 percent (651 of 1453 respondents) said their companies had a cell phone policy of some kind. Of those, 22 percent said they re-engineered their processes to accommodate the policy and 85 percent said the policy did not affect productivity.

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