California’s ban on hand held mobile phones has caused me to consider our own drivers in Colorado. Talking on a cell phone is extremely distracting, not to mention some Colorado drivers actually text message while driving! When I text message, nearly all of my focus is concentrated on the phone because it requires me to squint, make certain that I’m pressing the correct buttons, then I have to wait for it to go to the next letter, and finally send it. Sometimes, it takes me 5 minutes just to send one simple text. An automobile accident can happen in a split second.
According to David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, holding a cell phone isn’t the problem. The problem occurs because the driver is distracted by the conversation. Also according to Dr. Strayer’s findings, hands free devises have little or no impact on improving the situation. Dr. Amit Almor, a professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, said that conversation with someone in your passenger seat is much different than having a conversation on a telephone while driving. Dr. Amit Almor states that, “Either people are used to face-to-face communication or, when they engage in a language task, they create a mental representation in their mind and place the voice somewhere in space. In this case, that space in front of them, which suggests that it may be easier to have all things that require attention to occupy the same space.” Speaking also takes more concentration than listening. Drivers can easily ignore or tune out a passenger.
Some studies have shown that driving while talking on the phone is as hazardous as driving drunk, and that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times as likely to be in a motor vehicle accident. Conclusion: wait to use your cell phone until your vehicle is safely parked off the roadway and locked. Or, a better rule, only use your cell phone outside of your vehicle.
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