Drivers using cellular phones are four times as likely to get into a crash that can cause injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital, said an insurance study released Tuesday.I could have told you that. I can't count how many times I've seen people walking down busy city sidewalks using a "hands-free" phone who randomly stroll into other people, trip over stationary objects and almost walk into moving traffic. One time I even saw a pedestrian on a cell phone nearly get clipped crossing the street-- by an SUV-driver talking on a cell phone.
Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that using a hands-free device instead of a hand-held phone while behind the wheel will not necessarily improve safety. The institute said it was the first attempt to estimate whether phone use increases the risk of an injury crash in automobiles.
"You'd think using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, so it wouldn't increase crash risk as much as using a hand-held phone. But we found that either phone type increased the risk," said Anne McCartt, one of the study's authors and the institute's vice president for research.
It's not the phone itself that is dangerous, it's the focus and concentration that talking on the phone diverts from whatever else your body is doing. Some people have it worse than others. It used to be that an erratic driver was thought to be intoxicated. Now 9 times out of 10 if you pull up beside them they're on a cell phone.
Hopefully studies like this will help people realize that the only thing people should be doing behind the wheel of a car is driving.