Defensive Driving Resource

Is Cell Phone Use While Driving Really Dangerous?

The question of whether cell phone use while driving is really dangerous keeps popping up again and again. It would seem obvious that operating a cell phone while driving would probably create a traffic safety hazard, while texting should not be done at all when a person is driving. However, many states are still slow to consider or pass legislation that would prohibit either of these activities.

A group of teens in north Florida have decided for themselves that cell phone use, texting, and other distractions while driving definitely pose a safety hazard, especially when teenagers are the ones doing it. We recently discovered an article on that mentions a traffic safety video students will be producing for release later this year to present this serious issue in a format that teens will be able to relate to.

Jasmine Holmes, vice president of the Leon County Student District Advisory council, stated that the video would be produced by students and was intended to “raise awareness about not only drunk driving, but also distractions while driving.” The SDAC plans to work on the video over spring break for a release some time in fall, 2009, hopefully before students go to prom and graduation.

As of January, 2009, 17 states have enacted legislation which bans novice drivers from using cell phones while driving. However, according to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North carolina, teens tend to ignore these laws. Two months prior to the state’s cell phone ban, about 11% of teens were observed using cell phones while driving. Five months after the ban began, about 12% of teens were observed using phones while driving.

According to a recent article on distracted drivers texting law proposals on, there are currently 56 different laws; either pending or enacted, pertaining to the use of cell phones while driving in the U.S. Florida has two laws pending: Heather’s Law, (HB345) which would ban hand-held wireless devices while driving, and SB1578 banning texting while driving. There are several other bills, which are identical or nearly identical, all of which if approved would be effective in 2009.

A Harvard Center of Risk Analysis study found that 2,600 deaths in the U.S. each year were caused by driving while using a cell phone. This study also found 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries and 12,000 serious injuries directly related to cell phone use while driving.

We applaud the efforts of the Leon County Student District Advisory council to get the message out that distractions such as texting and cell phone use while driving can contribute heavily to Florida and U.S. fatalities.

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