The Boston Globe
July 15, 2005
CELLPHONES PROVIDE people with an addictive freedom, to talk for
business or pleasure, anywhere and any time, but a study released this
week shows, finally, that they should not be used behind the wheel of
a car. The Massachusetts Legislature needs to act quickly to prohibit
the use of cellphones while driving.
Under present state law, motorists can use cellphones on the road so
long as they keep one hand on the steering wheel and operate the
vehicle safely. A study released this week by the Insurance Institute
for Highway Safety suggests that this use is inherently unsafe.
The study was done in western Australia because US phone companies
would not provide access to records so researchers could determine
whether motorists hospitalized for accidents had used a cellphone at
the time of the crash. In Perth, Australia, the researchers found that
those who were using the phones were four times more likely to be
involved in an accident than those who weren't.
This result confirms the conclusions of another, less comprehensive,
survey and the intuitive feelings of many people. It is inherently
distracting to talk on the phone while driving. The intensity of
conversation drags the mind away from concentration on the road.
The Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation will need to take
this study into account this fall when it considers three bill to
regulate cellphone use.