The purpose of technology is to make life simpler and easier, and cell phones are doing just that. The efficiency and portability of wireless phones today allow drivers to do so much while staying on the go. In the time it takes to drive to work, a commuter is able to check up on family and friends, or even take important business calls while driving. But talking on the phone while driving poses the threat of distraction to the driver and a becomes an unnecessary risk to the surrounding community. In order to protect innocent civilians from the harm of a distracted driver, a ban on the use of cell phones while one is driving must be enacted. There has already been 14 countries around the world with working bans on cell phones an now many states and major cities across the United States are now considering similar bans.
In the argumentative essay “No, Don’t Prohibit Their Use” by Robert Hahn and Paul Tetlock, the authors argue that the rewards of using a cell phone while driving heavily outweighs the risk. More specifically, Hahn and Tetlock claim that cellular devices indeed cause fatal accidents but many “activities [including] tuning the radio, drinking double lattes, refereeing the sibling wars in the back seat can [also] lead to fatal crashes” (Robert). However, I am inclined to suggest that Hahn and Tetlock’s views are incorrect because the risks apply not only to the driver but also to society a whole. Cellular phone use while driving poses a risk not only to the drivers themselves, but also to other motorists around them, to pedestrians and surrounding property.
In a study published by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis the crash risk factor of driving while distracted on the phone came out to be 450 to 1,000 fatalities (Advocates for Cell Phone Safety). Although antagonists of the ban argue that cell phone related crashes a year are only “about 10,000 serious accidents and 100 traffic fatalities-less than 1 percent of the annual total”, there is an uncertainty that comes from a lack of existing research that is limited and of uneven quality (Robert). In most states, the police are not is required to note if an accident was caused by a driver distracted by using his/her phone Therefore, the statistics are not collected regularly collected and the real numbers may never be known (Advocates for Cell Phone Safety).
In this essay the authors fail to include the hefty toll left by motorists that crash their vehicle while using a cell phone can leave tax payers with a headache. The Advocates for Cell Phone Safety “estimate the cost of car phone-induced mayhem at about $1 billion annually” (Advocates for Cell Phone Safety). Not being able to conduct a business call while on the go will come at the small cost to the household; over $200 annually. A small price must be payed in order to ensure the protection of every person on the road. Lives must no longer be lost and money no longer wasted due to a distracted driver.
A University of Utah study found that “people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit” of 0.08 percent. The Study also expresses that driving while talking on a cell phone reduces a driver’s response time to the near same levels observed in an intoxicated driver (Strayer). Alcohol impairs a persons ability to react to certain things in time; hence the inability to walk. The time taken for the brain to process inputs means that the time between seeing a problem and reacting take longer. Not turning at corners or braking at lights while driving are common problems for an intoxicated driver (Strayer). After a close reading of the study, I agree that those distracted by a call are as impaired as someone that is intoxicated because a driver interacting in a phone call is distracted and cannot react as quick as a driver that is not; similar to the reaction speed to that of a drunk driver. If the mistake of driving drunk driving can land a driver in jail within seconds of being on the road, how come a driver impaired at the same level is free to continue endanger the welfare of innocent bystanders?
States that currently ban the use of hand-held phones while driving have failed to acknowledge the evidence that shows, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, the act of participating in a conversation impairs a driver. A 2003 study showing that the reason for delayed reaction time is inattention blindness; a state in which motorists look directly at road conditions but don’t really see them because they are distracted by a cell phone conversation. Such drivers aren’t aware they are impaired because their conversation is distracting them (Strayer). Letting a driver talk on the phone is just as dangerous as giving the wheel to someone that is drunk. Enacting a ban now will save the lives of many in the future.
In the essay “Yes, Prohibit Their Use” by Advocates for Cell Phone Safety, the authors create the compelling argument comparing the 120 deaths due to airbags that caused a major uproar from society and the 150 people killed with Firestone tires to cell phones while driving. The authors state, “Both airbags and tires are essential parts of the driving environment. Cell phones are not”. Does this mean we must stop using airbags and tires? Although the statement is true that cell phones are not essential for driving, the authors failed to include that airbags save far more people than they kill and did not mention that the Firestone tires were defective and eventually recalled. Cell phones related deaths are not related to faulty materials like tires or do they single out a small demographic like airbags, they stem from the need to take calls on the go. Today society is in constant motion and people are under constant pressure get things done faster and faster. It seems to be very unfortunate that in the rush to be more efficient the simple principle of safety was thrown out the window.
Previous Utah studies showed cell phone users were 5.36 times more likely to get in an accident than someone not using a cellular device drivers (Strayer). A driver on the phone is just as dangerous as a drunk one and they cause a massive amount of damage to the community each year. The advocates for a cell phone ban claim that they cause more damage then we know because of the lack of reliable data collection. Those against the ban admit that cell phones do cause accidents and fatalities, but argue that the benefits outway the risks. Claiming that cell phone accidents only make up less than 1% of the annual total. I believe that in order to halt the mounting death toll caused by talking and driving a ban must be put into place. Drivers must be able to make the decision to not use their phones until the vehicle is at a complete stop or else they will face paying a fine or even some jail time.
Advocates for Cell Phone Safety. “Yes, Prohibit Their Use.” Contemporary & Classic Arguments A Portable Anthology. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, and Hugo Bedau. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2005. 20-21. Print. Robert W. Hahn and Paul
Tetlock. “No, Don’t Prohibit Their Use.” Contemporary & Classic Arguments A Portable Anthology. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, and Hugo Bedau. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2005. 22-23. Print. Strayer , D.. “Drivers on cell phones are as bad as drunks.”University of Utah news center. University of Utah, 2006. Web. 10 Aug 2012.