Got a call you just have to make on your cell phone while driving your car? Better be sure that your liability insurance and collision coverage are in good shape with your insurer. And, if you're the parent of a newly driving teenager who is also armed with his or her own cell phone, you need to be especially sure that your car insurance for a young driver is up to date because the chances are very high that you'll need it for the inevitable fender-bender, which can also mean good-bye to affordable car insurance. Talking on the cell phone while driving has created a new "unsafe at any speed" situation on the modern highway. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, based in Australia, confirms this with their findings that drivers distracted by yapping on their cell phones while driving are four times more likely to become involved in accidents. Not only does cell phone usage cut down on a driver's ability to hear what's going on around him (such as sirens, car horns, people, etc.), it also takes a driver's attention away from the road.
Add to that statistic the findings of another study by the University of North Carolina, the University of Utah, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Rhode Island that show a person's driving skills while simultaneously talking on a cell phone equate driving while under the influence of alcohol, and you have some pretty significant reasons to be nervous when out on the road. Furthermore, researchers at the University of North Carolina discovered that drivers talking on their cell phones are twice as likely to rear-end the car in front of them as drivers who aren't using phones. However, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign proved that conversations among occupants in a car produce no similar distraction. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a single solution to the prevalent "driving while on the phone" problem.
Studies show that banning hand-held phones and opting for hands-free mobile phone technologies, such as headsets or Bluetooth ear buds, do not necessarily improve driving safety. The only real solution to this problem would be to simply turn cell phones off while driving so you won't be tempted to answer that phone call. But, human nature being what it is, this doesn't seem likely to happen on its own. A survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance revealed that 73 percent of all drivers talk on their cell phones while driving. As a result, several states, including Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Utah, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving.
Similar laws in California and Washington will go into effect in 2008. Several more states have laws that ban or restrict young drivers from using their cell phones while driving, and in some places authorized personnel can even issue citations for a DWT: Driving While Texting.
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