This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
The National Safety Council, a congressionally mandated group that led the campaign to make seat belts mandatory, now is taking aim at cellphones. The NSC is urging all states to ban the use of both hand-held and hand-free cellphones while driving.
State legislatures, heavily lobbied by the cellphone industry to not regulate calling on the road, should at last heed this rallying cry for increasing road safety. Six states – California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington, plus the District of Columbia – have banned the use of hand-held phones while driving, although no state seems ready to ban all cellphone use behind the wheel.
But the NSC says no cellphone use is safest when operating a moving vehicle. After reviewing more than 50 studies examining safety and cellphone use in vehicles, the organization says using a cellphone on the road increases the risk of a car crash fourfold. One study is from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, which estimated that 6 percent of vehicle accidents causing about 2,600 deaths and 12,000 serious injuries annually are attributable to cellphone use.
These aren't just dry numbers; they represent 2,600 men, women and children who were killed because someone was more preoccupied with a phone conversation than with driving safely. This is well over 2,000 grieving families. Is making a phone call while behind the wheel really worth that terrible risk?
Apparently, cellphone manufacturers think the answer is Yes. They pay lip service to urging customers to use cellphones responsibly on the road while aggressively beating down numerous attempts to regulate phone use while driving. A good example is close to home. A few years back the Miami-Dade County Commission and the city of Pinecrest each enacted bans on using hand-held cellphones behind the wheel.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.