Research shows that driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes. According to a 2006 NHTSA and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the crash. Cell phone use is one of the most common driver distractions.
GHSA discourages the use of cell phones while driving. In a recent media alert, Chairman Chris Murphy has stated that “All drivers, but particularly teens, need to focus solely on driving—and that means the cell phone needs to be off.”
Concern over the increasing use of cell phones while driving has prompted many state legislatures to restrict the practice, including:
* Banning handheld cell phone use by all drivers
* Restricting cell phone use only for a specific demographic, such as teens or school bus drivers
* Implementing text messaging bans
An increasing number of states are listing cell phone use as a data element on crash forms. There are numerous studies on cell phone use that indicate that any type of cell phone use can distract the driver. One such study is from Carnegie Mellon University: according to researcher Marcel Just, drivers need not dial, hold or even talk into a cell phone to be distracted. Simply listening intently is enough to impair driving.
What is less clear is the impact of cell phone bans. To date, there has been little research on the various handheld bans that have been enacted in numerous jurisdictions. These types of laws are difficult to enforce and may give drivers a false sense of safety. For these reasons, GHSA continues to oppose handheld cell phone bans.