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New Research Reinforces Safety Hazards of Cell Phone Use While Driving



Hand-Held Cell Phone Bans Won't Help


WASHINGTON, July 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement for attribution to Lt. Colonel Jim Champagne, Chair of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA):

Today the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released new research concluding that drivers using mobile phones are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. IIHS also indicated that hands-free equipment did not reduce chances of injury to drivers. This research, along with other recent studies from the University of Utah and Virginia Tech University, all have similar findings which should impact our public policy discussion about 'dialing and driving.' The message is clear: Drivers should not use ANY type of cell phone behind the wheel.

Policy makers continue to struggle with the best solution to the distracted driving problem. From GHSA's perspective, educating drivers about how to manage all distractions, including cell phone use, continues to be the most prudent course of action at this time. Drivers need to be reminded that driving is a very complex task requiring full attention. GHSA urges state legislatures to refrain from enacting hand-held cell phone bans because such bans send an incorrect message to drivers that as long as they are hands-free, they are safe.

To better understand the extent of the problem, GHSA recommends states include an element for driver distraction on motor vehicle crash report forms. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia include driver distractions on their crash forms, which are completed by a police officer at a crash scene. The cumulative data from police crash forms are used to help develop policy and traffic safety countermeasures. GHSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation have developed model elements which include driver distraction guidelines. States are encouraged to consider implementing driver distraction data elements as crash forms are updated. The guidelines, known as the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, are available at http://www.mmucc.us.



Accident Reconstruction Newsletter - JANUARY 2005


In 2003, 4,749 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States a decrease of 16 percent from the 5,649 pedestrians killed in 1993. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 111 minutes. There were 70,000 pedestrians injured in traffic crashes in 2003. On average, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes. Most pedestrian fatalities in 2003 occurred in urban areas (72 percent), at nonintersection locations (79 percent), in normal weather conditions (89 percent), and at night (65 percent). More than two-thirds (69 percent) of the 2003 pedestrian fatalities were males. In 2003, the male pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population was 2.27 more than double the rate for females (1.01 per 100,000 population). The male pedestrian injury rate per 100,000 population in 2003 was 30, compared with 19 for females (see Table 5). In 2003, almost one-fourth (22 percent) of all children between the ages of 5 and 9 years who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Nearly one-fifth (17 percent) of all traffic fatalities under age 16 were pedestrians, and 7 percent of all the people under age 16 who were injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians.