MSNBC article says all cell phone talking and driving is dangerous [Telecom]

MSNBC reported:

some research shows that hands-free calls are just as distracting as calls made on a handheld phone.

"The evidence is mounting that the conversation itself is the risk, not holding the phone", says Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "The research shows the risk of having an accident is about four times higher for drivers using cell phones, whether it?s handheld or hands-free."

I think we?ve all see someone weaving in their lane while on a cell phone. That?s because a driver is not paying full attention to the road.

"Some degree of awareness changes when you?re talking on the phone and driving, and I think we all know this", says Marcel Just, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. "Just listening to someone talk on the phone while you are driving is going to reduce the quality of your driving performance", he says.

Distraction equals danger University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer has studied driver distraction for years. He says talking on the phone causes what?s called "inattention blindness". The driver looks but does not always see things that are there, such as pedestrians, stop signs, traffic signals, or other vehicles.

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This is being discussed a lot in California these days because it becomes illegal July 1 to use a hand-held unit while driving a car.

The Southern California Auto Club has a consulting expert who asserts that a hands-free unit is about as hazardous because of attention diversion.

I think a lot depends upon the training and discipline of the driver. Cops talk on radios and drive all the time. Pilots do it in airplanes...and so forth.

I think for a person with the training and presence of mind a hand-free unit is safer than holding a unit to the ear (that was never designed propergly to be held to the ear in the first place.)

Now, for the 90% of drivers who can't handle the hands-free without being diverted I submit that this same class of drivers has been diverted by talk radio for many years.

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Sam Spade

[Moderator Snip]

[Moderator Snip] I agree, using a phone in any manor while driving is dangerous. Last year I was hit in the rear on my truck and the person was on the phone and he was using blue tooth: no difference. I remember years ago using both Ham radio and CB in a car and I guess I either got good enough not to have an accident or just very lucky. Also I had been a Reserve Sheriff and was alway on the radio, again with no problem. I remember that during the training we got a lot of training behind the wheel. ***** Moderator's Note *****

I've said before that Hams should not be included with cell users in such bans: their conversations rarely concern anything important enough to distract them from driving. Hams also use push-to-talk radios that only go one way at a time: listen or talk, not both. It's a different paradyme.

A law-enforcement officer using a radio in a car is also in a different paradyme: (s)he is communicating information _about_ driving, i.e., about location, route, etc., and is trained to do so.

Cellphone are a distraction because the conversations are

A. Almost never about the task at hand, i.e., driving. B. Bi-directional, and thus an added distraction since the users are listening even while talking. C. About things they consider more important than driving.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

(Please put [Telecom] at the end of your subject line, or I may never see your post! Thanks!)

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