The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

March 7, 2013

Cellphones shouldn’t be able to work in moving cars, experts say

Thousands of people die in car crashes each year because drivers were too distracted by their cellphones to pay attention to the road. A pair of researchers from West Virginia University have a radical proposal for reducing that death toll — equip cars with devices that make it impossible to send a text message, check your favorite traffic app or dial home while the car is in motion.

“Simply stated, handheld portable devices must be rendered unoperable whenever the automobile is in motion or when the transmission shaft lever is in forward or reverse gear,” they wrote in a Viewpoint essay in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Automobile and cell phone equipment manufacturers have the engineering capabilities to implement these safeguards, and they should be required to do so.”

Sound extreme? Consider the health costs of distracted driving:

• Experts at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis in Boston have calculated that drivers using cellphones cause 333,000 injuries (including 12,000 that were serious) and 2,600 deaths per year.

• Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth have estimated that texting accounted for more than 16,000 crash-related deaths between 2001 and 2007.

• Investigators at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg have concluded that, compared with driving with a cellphone put away, texting while driving increases the risk of a “safety-critical event” by a factor of 23 and dialing while driving increases the risk by a factor of six.

Passing a law is not enough to solve this problem, according to the Viewpoint authors, Dr. Jeffrey Coben and Motao Zhu. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 10 states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of handheld cellphones while driving, and 39 states and the District of Columbia have made it illegal to text while driving. Yet in surveys, 40 percent of drivers still admit to talking on the phone when they’re behind the wheel and 13 percent own up to texting.

“As individuals continue to use their cell phones nearly continuously throughout the day, for both business and pleasure, they will continue to be tempted to use this technology - if available - while driving,” Coben and Zhu wrote. Hence the need to make this technology unavailable, they said.

That would still leave room for hands-free systems that let you dial by voice or translate text messages into computer speech, Coben and Zhu wrote - but only if research shows that such systems don’t lead to distracted driving either.

In the meantime, “The federal government should enact stringent new safety standards that require all handheld devices to be rendered inoperable when the motor vehicle is in motion,” the pair concluded. “Failure to act in this manner will result in the continued loss of thousands of lives each year to this preventable public safety hazard. In this era of smartphones and smart cars, it is time to be smarter about keeping them apart from one another.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Woman, teenager found dead in Lake Erie; 2 missing

    The bodies of two of four missing boaters were recovered in western Lake Erie on Thursday, a day after the group left for an afternoon of fishing and sent pictures to relatives.

    April 18, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.
     

    April 18, 2014

  • Lordstown eyes fall rollout of updated Cruze

    Production of the updated Chevrolet Cruze is tentatively set to begin early this fall at the General Motors facility in Lordstown, a plant official confirmed.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals

    Democratic worries about this November’s elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama’s effort to pass new curbs on firearms.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video