News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con on banning cell-phone use while driving

More than 50 research studies have reported the risks of cell-phone use while driving. Talking on a cell phone while driving makes a person four times more likely to be in a crash. This is a much higher risk than most other activities, including eating, drinking, listening to the radio or talking to other passengers. It's the cell-phone conversation that diverts people's attention from the road. The National Safety Council has called for a total ban on cell-phone use while driving. Hands-free-only laws tend to send the wrong message — that drivers can safely talk on phones without getting into crashes. Laws are not the only way to address this problem. Educating people about the risks and the science is also important. — Janet P. Froetscher, president of the National Safety Council

Cell-phone use has jumped dramatically in the past 10 or 15 years (from 13 percent of Americans in 1995 to 80 percent today). Have traffic accidents and deaths risen by a similar rate? Anything remotely close? Actually, no. A cell-phone ban might make us feel better, but at best it would have the same practical effect as banning Big Macs while driving, shaving while driving, reading a map while driving or reaching into the backseat for your kid while driving. I will intentionally leave out drinking while driving, since that is against the law already. Our best course would be to discourage all of those behaviors for people with the good sense to listen. For everyone else, no law will stop them from doing anything. — Mike Hashimoto, Dallas Morning News