Argument: Cell phone use in cars impairs driving, causes accidents
Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, who introduced the bill to the House. - "Studies have found that close to 4,600 accidents are caused each and every day by people who are distracted. That's 20 to 30 percent of all accidents that occur."
Amy Roe. "Drivers ignoring cell phone bans". MSNBC. June 17th, 2008 - "Like driving drunk?
- Why are the bans increasingly popular? A growing body of research links drivers' cell phone use to car accidents. Nearly 80% of crashes and 65% of near crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event, according to a 2006 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
- Cell phone use and drowsiness were the primary causes of driver inattention.
- A 2006 study by University of Utah psychologist David Strayer said drivers talking on cell phones -- including those using hands-free devices -- are as prone to accidents as those who drive drunk. It's the conversation, Strayer reported, not the device, that distracts drivers."
"Editorial: Cellphone ban long overdue". The Dominion Post. June 12th, 2008 - In Britain, a study a few years ago, using a driving simulator, found that motorists using hand-held phones took 30 per cent longer to react to hazards than motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and 50 per cent longer than drivers not under the influence.
"Hands-free cellphone use while driving won't make the roads safer, studies show. Why? Brain overload." LA Times. 30 June 2008 - In the lab, multi-tasking drivers fare little better. A recent study showed powerfully how doing two seemingly simple tasks can overload the brain and cause errors of judgment.
Marcel Just, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, conducted brain imaging of 29 young adults to gauge the cognitive demands of simultaneously driving and listening. Lying in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, the subjects steered a simulated car down a winding road. On a second run, they steered the car while listening to general-knowledge statements and identifying them as true or false.
The study, published in April in the journal Brain Research, found that subjects who were allowed to navigate undisturbed showed robust activity in the brain's parietal lobe, a region long associated with spatial sense, distance calculations and judgments that require a person to calculate his whereabouts in a broader physical environment. When the task of listening to the sentences was added, blood flowed to different parts of the brain generally involved in the processing of language. As those language areas came alive, activity in the parietal lobe declined by almost 40%.
While engaged in the listening task, drivers simultaneously listening to sentences veered off the road and onto the shoulder almost 50% more often than those allowed to focus uniquely on driving. And all they had to do was steer the car forward: no cars veered into their lane, no children darted into the road, no construction site loomed up unexpectedly.
"Before we ever ran any of these studies, some thought, 'Well, these were two independent tasks, performed by two independent brain areas,' " Just says. But certain brain regions are very likely critical to both tasks, he adds, and the flow of traffic in the multi-tasking brain appears to have slowed as a result. "It can only do so much at a time."