I pulled the following update off of an industry newsletter I received today. If any of you had run out of things to worry about this should give you something to think about on your next ride.
Cell Phone Use Seen Worse Than Drunk Driving
A study conducted by United Kingdom-based Transport Research
Laboratory found that driving behavior is impaired more by using a
cell phone than by being above legal alcohol limits.
Cell phones and other wireless technologies have become a popular
way for truckers to stay in contact with employers and families
while on the road.
Using simulators, the group that drivers' reaction times were 30%
slower when using a hand-held phone compared with being drunk.
Specifically, drivers had trouble maintaining a constant speed and
keeping a safe distance from the car in front while using the phone.
Direct Line, the insurance company that commissioned the study, said
in a release on Friday that even when a hands-free cell phone was
used, it still was a major distraction for drivers, who tended to
miss more road signs while talking. The study also concluded
hand-free cell phone use was also more dangerous than drunken
driving. Transport Topics
My own informal survey says about 10% of the drivers I see have a phone stuck to their ear. Add in the hands free models and its probably close to 20%. If we can enforce laws on drunk driving and seatbelt usage then its about time to put some teeth in eliminating cell phone usage in a moving vehicle as well.