If you do a Google search for "texting while driving dangerous" you'll find links to dozens of studies to prove this point. If you do a search for "texting while driving not dangerous" you'll find the same studies. The fact is that there is no study that proves that cell phone use while driving is not dangerous. So let's just get that out of the way.

Now the question is How dangerous is it? The National Transportation Safety Board made the recommendation that all cell phone use should be banned, but is that really necessary? If such bans are put in place, would they do any good? Let's examine the facts.

Research findings

When it comes to texting or talking on the phone while driving, there are two arguments: Yes, it is dangerous; and No, it's not dangerous, at least not as dangerous as people say. I've heard different people say that texting is no more dangerous than other distractions like changing the radio station, talking to a passenger, or necessarily looking in the rear-view mirror when changing lanes. This is true. In a report by Young, Regan, & Hammer on driver distractions, it is noted that "distraction is an inevitable consequence of being human ... driver distraction cannot be eliminated.” However, as a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association brings out, "the challenge is to identify and eliminate those distractions that increase crash risk substantially." With that in mind, let's examine several studies and reports to see if cell phone use while driving 'substantially increases crash risk.' We'll run through them with bullet points.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 16% of fatal crashes and 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved at least one distracted driver.
  • Other crash data studies show that drivers were distracted in 15% to 30% of all crashes, though the distraction may not have caused or contributed to the crash.
  • A 2006 study by researchers from the University of Utah revealed that a person who is talking on a cell phone while driving is just as impaired as a drunk driver. Dr. David Strayer, one of the authors of this study, said, "Cell phone conversation draws attention away from the processing of the visual environment." This agrees with a 2003 study by the same group that revealed that drivers who using a cell phone are essentially "blind" even when looking direcctly at an object "because attention is directed elsewhere." Dr. Strayer went on to say, "Even though you're eyes are looking right at something, when you are on the cell phone, you are not as likely to see it."
  • A 2009 experiment by David Bellinger and others at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio found that cell phone conversations slowed response time while listening to music did not.
  • A 2010 report by C.M. Farmer and others combined research from two other studies and concluded that cell phone use caused 1.3 million car crashes in 2008.
  • More recently, a study just published by the Texas Transportation Institute showed that a driver's reaction time is doubled from one to two seconds when not texting to three to four seconds when he or she is sending or receiving a text message. According to the report, "drivers were less able to safely maintain their position in the driving lane when they were texting". Three or four seconds may not seem like that much, but at 30 mph, five seconds equals 220 feet. At 60 mph, five seconds represents 440 feet. Even when traveling 55 mph, you cover the length of a football field in just a few seconds.

These are just a few of the numerous studies on this matter. They all prove the same point: cell phone use does cause a certain amount of danger when driving. Need more proof? Try this test by The New York Times that measures how your reaction time in affected by texting.

The problem is, while researchers can definitively cite cell phone use a role in car accidents, it's difficult to determine how large a role it plays. Cell phone use has proven to be a distraction but measuring the impact of a distraction is difficult to do in a lab test since researches are not going to simply allow drivers to text at will and wreck a bunch of cars. Not only that, but certain distractions are not always listed in crash reports or given due attention for whatever reason, whether it's a lack of understanding or a lack of knowledge on the officer's part as to the person's actions before the accident. And of course, these surveys and crash reports rely on honest answers. However, even taking all of these "unknowns" into consideration, these would only increase the known risk of cell phone use while driving rather than diminish it.

Do laws on cell phone use while driving help?

This is probably the main argument. A person can talk until they're red in the face about whether or not texting while driving is dangerous, but the real issue is whether or not the government has the right to ban cell phone use while driving or if it would do any good. I'm not going to get into the political side of this since this isn't a political website and I just don't want to get involved with that. What we're going to consider is IF the government instituted these bans, would they do any good?

Studies have been conducted in New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, and North Carolina, states that have implemented laws on cell phone use while driving. A study conducted in New York examined crash rates per driver from 1997 to 2007. In 2001, New York implemented a hand-held cell phone law. The study showed that after the law went into effect, crash rates were lower in all 62 counties and significantly lower in 46 counties. Fatal crash rates were lower in 46 counties and significantly lower in 10. It's a different story when looking into bans on novice drivers (teenagers). For whatever reason (I can think of a few), laws on cell phone use have little to no effect on teenagers and their driving habits. How surprising.

As for bans on texting while driving, there is no proof that texting bans have reduced the rate of car crashes. One study from 2010 showed that the rate of car crashes either stayed the same or increased, possibly because drivers are hiding the phone in their lap so as not to get caught, thereby causing even more unsafe conditions.

Cell phone use while driving is a dangerous distraction. It remains to be seen if the government will institute laws to limit this. If those laws are put into effect, it is the obligation of the citizens to obey that law, maybe then they would actually have a positive effect on things.

Image via The English Blog

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104 Reactions to this post

"Should using a phone in the car be banned?"

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Anonymous no it shouldnt
Anonymous See NYTimes technology 12/26/11 – PhoneDog is a legal bully
Anonymous 100% yes very dangerous habit.
Francesco Vincent Parisi Noeske
Francesco Vincent Parisi Noeske Of course!i don't wanna die because someone is so stupid to drive and use his shitphone!Cannot people wait some minutes, look for a parking place and then check their f**king messages?
Savanah-Rose Goodwin
Savanah-Rose Goodwin yes
Shawna Vaughn
Shawna Vaughn Who the hell is that important that they have to text them back while your driving from point A to point B. Sorry but no one is worth my life.
Shawna Vaughn
Shawna Vaughn I think it should be banned because people just don't pay attention as well as they should. I have had close calls with people on there phone and almost hitting me or running me off the road. Im just waiting for someone to hit me while being on there phone and not paying attention. I'm going to beat their ass for being stupid, then ill call the insurance company so they can pay for the damage.
Jim Mccoy
Jim Mccoy Get an iPhone 4s and tell Siri to do texting for you. Problem solved.
Ron Yeager
Ron Yeager Yes too much of a distraction
Wil Baca Igor Lerp
Wil Baca Igor Lerp They made it a primary offense in MD but I see hundreds of people including the police (both state and local) talking and texting on them while driving. Common sense isn't so common anymore.
Olinda Britto
Olinda Britto When I get a call when I'm driving, it's just like talking to a passenger. I listen but my eyes are on the road. Usually, the call is about 1 minute long. I don't think we should ban phone calls on the road but people should use common sense and not have intense conversations while driving. Texting, however is completely different and definitely should be banned.
Peter Dirk
Peter Dirk In Germany in Law for years. It works. Verifiable.
Deniz Zoeteman
Deniz Zoeteman @ Mathijs true! It's even retarded that people do that. I will never use my cell phone while driving, except for calling with carkit and bluetooth headset
Mathijs Wagemaker
Mathijs Wagemaker This has been the law in the netherlands for years!
Sterling Jack
Sterling Jack Real bummer, NOT :))
Darren Huseyin
Darren Huseyin This is already the law in the UK, and I find it a good idea. There have been less accidents due to lack of attention to the road. The law states you can use a handsfree kit/system, which encourages everyone to put their phones away.
Jason Matsukawa
Jason Matsukawa They need to make it a felony.
Mauka Side
Mauka Side Yes. I've been behind many on Oahu texting and driving very slow on the freeway and swerving so much I had a hard time trying to get away from them.
Steve Bergamo
Steve Bergamo Hands free no. Texting, email, updates, etc yes
Ian Walker
Ian Walker I live in england and in our country it's already illegal to use your phone in the car. And rightly so you should concentrate on the road when driving not your phone.
Jose Ramirez
Jose Ramirez duh
Sarah Kratz
Sarah Kratz I don't text and drive on my iPhone, but I can change songs without looking at my phone. As long as you can use a headset and not text it's no different than talking to someone in your car.
Vlad Kirilyuk
Vlad Kirilyuk No it should be up to the person to use there brain it's Like banning smoking while driving
Ely Nakano
Ely Nakano Not only should the government ban phones in cars, gov should limit 1 child per family. if families have more than 1, they should get tax for the other kids.
Gwendolyn Suzanne Harris Kight
Gwendolyn Suzanne Harris Kight I don't feel that this ban is necessary no. I don't feel like anyone has the right to tell me what to do with my personal property that I bought at what particular time. I do not own a car nor will I ever drive. I simply refuse to do so. Hands free devices are sufficient and honestly I don't think people will heed the ban if it is indeed created.
Eric Casanova
Eric Casanova Doesn't the government have enough power already
Sharon Long Jordan
Sharon Long Jordan NO...you should use a hands free device while driving, but banning use altogether is rediculous. I guess we cant talk to passengers in the car either???? maybe we shouldnt have kids in the back seat we have to talk to either ! yea--lets ban passengers, kids, and radios !
Ayrton Peel
Ayrton Peel Here in the UK you have to use a hands-free device, I just have my phone on loud speaker. This way you can still legally use your satnav and receive calls bit with no more distraction then talking to someone in the passenger seat. Texting is the dangerous thing as it removes your attention from the road, if someone in front of you were to slam on there brakes or a child walkers out whilst you're staring down at your phone there is no way you could stop. I don't know of anyone here who feels this is any kind of nanny state legislation, it is there solely for safety. Besides, surely the person texting you would much rather wait for a response rather than feel responsible for your death?
Oscar Castro Gosling
Oscar Castro Gosling Yes
Scott Adams
Scott Adams How about a ban on the government!
Dustin Stephenson
Dustin Stephenson I think it should be included in your drivers test. Get a license to text and drive
Craig Marino
Craig Marino This is should be a State by State ruling and not be another federal we know better then the rest of you law. Next thing they'll find changing radio station or playing with the heat is dangerous and ban that also. The cost of getting a ticket here in NY is plenty enough to keep me away from my phone while driving and also I'd like to arrive alive wherever i may go.
Jason Reece
Jason Reece Here in MD there's a ban, but that hasn't stopped anyone. County cops included.
Tom Parker
Tom Parker First a ban on using a cell phone while driving then there will be a ban on getting a blow job while driving. Sheez!!!
Myles Boone II
Myles Boone II Yes
Kenneth Li
Kenneth Li cant it be the other way around? i'm distracted by the driving looking at the road, i didnt pay attention to the person on the phone talking!
Robert Hoellering
Robert Hoellering No but it should be law that when driving you have to use a hands free device.
Brian Edson
Brian Edson I was just watching an episode of mythbusters and they proved that driving while talking on a cell phone is just as bad (if not worse) than driving drunk.
Kenneth Li
Kenneth Li it just another way for the government to LEGALLY rob you! just like speedlimit! i ticketed twice on Sat morning when i'm the only one on freeway! what' wrong with going a little faster?
Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai I see people more distracted by their kids in the car. So should we ban kids from the car?
Matthew Lynn Lesley
Matthew Lynn Lesley Yes
Mark Anthony Colindres
Mark Anthony Colindres Should be banned.
Mike Belle
Mike Belle In Massachusetts it's illegal to text while driving, but you can talk on the phone as long as your over 18..makes no sense.
Milton R. Ervin IV
Milton R. Ervin IV We might as well ban more than two people in a car much more of a distraction
Jovelyn Mercado Tusi
Jovelyn Mercado Tusi To be honest....I think cell phone calls or just messaging or what ever, you need to concentrate on looking on the road and driving safely .....Am I right??????distracted from using a cell phone or whatever ......It can wait !!!!!
Randy S Martin
Randy S Martin Yes, and they should also ban driving with kids or spouses in th vehicle, car radios, driving while depressed,driving while happy, hell why not just ban people from driving all together because we are all guilty of being distracted.
Cory Wilson
Cory Wilson Yes
Carol Dudley-Bowen
Carol Dudley-Bowen It'd be a lot easier to not use a cell phone in the car if people would quit calling and expect me to answer it.
Paul Armendarez
Paul Armendarez Yes
George Isenhart
George Isenhart Don't forget the first mobile phones were....CAR PHONES.
Peter Andrew Rardin
Peter Andrew Rardin Yes, and for the people saying the government needs to stay out of our lives, I would agree if people weren't total morons when they get behind the wheel with their cell phones. We had 3 kids ran over just in the last month due to cell phone users not watching the road. Would any of you Idiot cellphone drivers like to say that to the parents faces that just lost their child because you couldn't drive with your mouth shut for any length of time?
Douglas J Kmiotek
Douglas J Kmiotek Use a bluetooth headset, or connect it to the stereo in the car,...
Douglas J Kmiotek
Douglas J Kmiotek Only if your using your hands and being an asshole. Same as texting, no texting.
Sean Reece
Sean Reece lol you really think people will obey? you can hide your phone and if you have a smartphone you can talk to text and what if its an emergency and while we cant use our phones in the car do we get a monthly discount on our bill?
Bill Schober
Bill Schober YES!
Elis Diaz
Elis Diaz How many of you are responding to this message while driving in your car? haha
Rustle See
Rustle See I think a ban on pets on your lap while driving.. or a ban of eating food.. or a ban on reading books/newspapers should be pucked up before a full ban. My car has BT. I stream music, can take calls, and get navigation.. all without letting go of the wheel.
Joshua Natheniel Jesse
Joshua Natheniel Jesse YES
Dina Locklear Ball
Dina Locklear Ball absolutely not, sick of the law/govt taking our rights to make more money!
Jacob Grumbles
Jacob Grumbles Yes it should. Car and driver did a test and test showed that drunk drivers had better reaction times then the driver texting while driving.
Taylor Lodridge
Taylor Lodridge personaly i think it shouldnt be completely banned i like it the way it is... i dont use my phone while driving but i listen to music with an aux cord. before there were cell phones my grandmaw told me that people read magazines and drove and got in recks like these days. so wats the point
Dave Guy
Dave Guy Yes because it's been proven quite thoroughly that people can't be trusted with being responsible about phone use in automobiles. The numbers don't lie.
Lee Winkler
Lee Winkler Yes, along with talking, pets, whiney kids, guys along the side of the road waving signs for sales on burritos, hot girls in convertibles and billboards
Craig Kaczmarski
Craig Kaczmarski I live in NY and it is pretty much banned here, first it was not calling then they went for texting, personally I like the idea but I still think you should be able to use hands free devices, bluetooth/cars that are hands free enabled. It does cut down on accidents since you have both hands free to control your car and you have both eyes on the road. it is a great idea just needs to be slightly modified.
Lekan Adeyeri
Lekan Adeyeri yes because we you wouldn't be happy if your dead
Carlos Armas
Carlos Armas I'll go along with personal responsibility, but the problem here is that there are idiots out there who don't give a crap about others. These are the same people who will be crashing head on and killing others because they're texting and not paying attention. I'm all for personal responsibility but not when that freedom can take another persons life. I think if you have a system in your car that picks up the call without you touching the phone is OK and then a fine if your caught with your phone in your hand, get an iphone and siri so you dont have to touch your phone
Matt Peters
Matt Peters No.
Art Morris
Art Morris Remember, the FCC bans jammers! Period. If they catch you with a jammer, it'll set you back numerous thousands of dollars.
Jamie Doege
Jamie Doege we have cellphone ban in BC Canada, 178$ fine if you get caught you can however use blue tooth device. unless you are a new driver then no electronic devices period. its a good law and should be accepted everywhere, the amount of deaths due to cellphone use is way to high.
Bill Schober
Bill Schober I was almost killed by someone talking on her cell phone ten years ago, I am still in pain 24/7. I think talking, texting or surfing (the internet) should be banned for the driver anytime the engine is running. I think that using a smart phone as a GPS monitor is okay.
Dominic Lambert
Dominic Lambert to a certain degree
David Kimberlin
David Kimberlin why not they are banning everything else...
Angel Rodriquez
Angel Rodriquez i say yes to cell phone banned .And cellphone is becomming like God too them.
Octavius TAE Sylvers
Octavius TAE Sylvers State issue not
Micheal Wray Kennedy
Micheal Wray Kennedy no, but the phone on the thumbnail should be banned.
Fernando Gonzalez
Fernando Gonzalez How about we just go ahead and ban talking while driving too? Even better. Just get it over with and ban having a fucking soul.
Martin Vega
Martin Vega i need to text at red lights
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson I really don't think it's a bad thing, but let's face it banning cell phones while driving won't fix anything, some people just can't drive.
Fernando Gonzalez
Fernando Gonzalez Ummm. No what the fuck people. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! ! EASY ANSWER TO THIS : DONT BE A FUCKING IDIOT, PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN How about we just go ahead and let the government hold our dicks while we piss. Because you know, the piss diseases that go around when you piss and miss the toilet are deadly. Fucking mindless idiots
Richard Canales
Richard Canales Yes, but police should also have to obey this restriction. I regularly see police on their cell phones while driving.
Diego Salazar
Diego Salazar No!
Jay Atta
Jay Atta texting is already banned in 35 states while driving...if there is a significant difference in death numbers than before than yes ban it.
Rajesh Ramsaroop
Rajesh Ramsaroop I think only texting should be banned, that way I can still browse the internet...
Alex Robledo
Alex Robledo Cell phones these days do a lot more than simply make phone calls. For many it's their everyday necessity for work. Others may need it to get to places because of their GPS features. And in the event you do get into a car crash (God-forbid) in a rural area, that phone could be your lifeline. And if we're going to ban cell phones just because they're distracting, then should we start banning radios, air conditioners, and beverages in the car as well?
Brett James Burgoyne
Brett James Burgoyne Cell phone use while driving should definitely be banned. It is extremely dangerous and endangers many lives.
Alex Englehart
Alex Englehart more NANNY STATE bs, they need to STAY out of our lives. i can guarantee, that government workers, politicians and others will STILL be using their phones while driving... just like they push us into these honda insights, fiat 500s and similar while they ride around in huge suburbans and suburban 2500s... DOUBLE STANDARD MUCH,
Adrian Anguiano
Adrian Anguiano Is that even a question? Uh yea it needs to be banned. I mean talking on the phone is fine but texting? You're just asking to die in an accident
Antoine Woods
Antoine Woods No no because what if there is a family emergency. like the wife is having a baby or the kids need something. we use phones for more then just texting so no
Bill Stack
Bill Stack At some point there will be software so that when u start your car it will block your phone. Maybe they will leave 911 open.
Nick Delcourt
Nick Delcourt they are banned in ontario, Canada while driving, a lot less accidents on the road
Arnulfo Aviña Torrés
Arnulfo Aviña Torrés The government is full of it. If they ban the cell phone , well i guess ill be braking the law like the rest of the nation.
Francisco Alexander McCrea
Francisco Alexander McCrea YES please you know how annoying is having old people driving and talking in the phone or in the express way talking in the phone
Ahmad Doat Ashawa
Ahmad Doat Ashawa If you can't drive and use your phone then it's your fault for not being competent enough to handle that task. Weed out the idiots, survival of the fittest. I agree they have much larger issues at hand to worry about instead of us driving while on the phone, if anything we should be allowed to do that in this day and age everything moves quickly. Also they should give the defense budget to NASA nobody is trying to wipe us out anymore that would make every nation collapse.
Linyera Baez-Rivera
Linyera Baez-Rivera No.
Alex Englehart
Alex Englehart yea the cheap incandescent , they are making the compact florescent mandatory
Everett C W Byrd
Everett C W Byrd Let the economy decide. Offer insurance discounts if you install a jammer/etc.
King Josef
King Josef Yessss
Rodger Samiie Myers
Rodger Samiie Myers I say yes...its dangerous...its a fact...only reason i touch my phone when I drive is to change my pandora
Omar Lmt
Omar Lmt They banned light bulbs?
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz Yes it would help. That way people pay attention to what they r doing.
Oscar Dominguez
Oscar Dominguez Yes, unfortunately people are not very responsible and texting while driving is as dangerous as a DUI.
Niall Barr
Niall Barr yes
Alex Englehart
Alex Englehart government needs to stay out of our lives, first the light bulb ban and now this. they need to stfu and fix the budget problems and create jobs...
Adam West
Adam West People should just not have friends

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