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Mobile Phones and Driving Safety

With the amazing popularity and huge growth that the mobile phone industry has seen over the past decade, it is estimated that more than 50% of the population now owns a mobile phone. Talking on mobile phones while driving has long been an issue, but today, texting and driving may actually be a larger one. Because of the dangers associated with mobile phone use while driving, many jurisdictions have enacted laws prohibiting mobile phone use of any kind while behind the wheel.

 Driver Distracted Accidents

 A report discussing the fatalities caused by distracted driving in 2009 was released by the U.S. NHTSA at the end of the third quarter in 2010. This report detailed the distracted driver to have been participating in such actions as eating, smoking, adjusting the temperature, attempting to reach an object, other individuals in the vehicle, adjusting the radio, drinking and cell phone use. The total number of individuals that lost their lives due to distracted driving was listed as 5,474; however, 995 of those individuals were killed due to drivers that were distracted due to cell phone use of some sort.

 A study performed in 2003 stated that cell phone use accounted for nearly 5 percent of all crashes. Yet, today, cell phone use is believed to contribute to far more accidents than it did eight years ago.

 The 2003 SAAQ Study

In 2003, the Société de l'assurance Automobile du Québec sent out 175,000 questionnaires to registered drivers for the purpose of conducting a study about driver's habits, mobile phone use, recent collisions, risk exposure and socio-demographics. The questionnaires were completed and returned by 36,078 individuals and cell phone data, provided by the respective companies, was used to back up the information, along with crash records from the police.

 What the study found was that the relative risk for a crash while using a cell phone was increased, although the data has been analyzed and reanalyzed due to concern over reporting errors and miscalculations. The final calculation, and also the one seeing the most concern, calculated the relative risk of a crash by a cell phone user was 5.13.

 Subsequently, State Farm Insurance Company released study results in March of 2011 that revealed that 19% of the drivers that were surveyed admitted to using their smart phones to access the internet while they were driving. State Farm is one of the largest auto insurers in the United States.

 Further Studies

The psychology department of the University of Utah conducted a study in 2003 to rate the response time, driving speed and following distance of subjects. The subjects were divided into three groups. Group 1 was required to complete the study with a BAC of 0.08 (the legal limit for alcohol content).Group 2 was completely sober. Group 3 was instructed to have a conversation on a cell phone. The results were actually quite remarkable, with cell phone users exhibiting far greater impairment when behind the wheel than those that had drank enough alcohol to show a BAC of 0.08.

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