AirTalk for March 7, 2013

Are laws not enough to stop people from using cellphones while driving?

TEXTING 2009

Photo by Lorianne DiSabato via Flickr Creative Commons

Using a cellphone while driving is banned in California, but it's not enough to stop some texters and callers. Should all phones be disabled in moving cars?

California has banned driving while using a hand-held cellphone since July 2008. But really, how many times have you seen drivers tapping feverishly in his or her iPhone at a red light, or worse, while they are driving on the road? It’s not only a source of frustration for other drivers, it has proven deadly.

Experts at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis have calculated that cellphone-distracted drivers have caused over 300,000 injuries and over 2,500 deaths per year. And researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center estimated that texting was the cause for more than 16,000 crash-related deaths between 2001 and 2007.

Two researchers—Jeffrey Coben and Motao Zhu—at West Virginia University have a radical suggestion to end our addiction to driving while cellphoning: by configuring vehicles with devices that would disable mobile phones when the car is in motion.  They argue that federal, state, or local laws are not sufficient when it comes to ending the dangerous practice of distracted driving and that more drastic measures are in order.

Is what they are proposing too extreme? Is it even feasible? Who would foot the bill for the installation of these devices?

Guests:
Jeffrey Coben, MD, Professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Community Medicine at West Virginia University; co-author of the study “Keeping An Eye on Distracted Driving”

Paul Atchley, PhD, Professor and Chair of Undergraduate Studies; Psychology Director, Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Kansas


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