Are Cell Phones Dangerous Essay
The study, by University of Utah researchers, adds to a growing body of evidence that conversing by phone while behind the wheel can be hazardous.
"We found that when people talk on a cell phone they are as impaired as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit (of 0.08). It was a surprise to us," said Frank Drews, one of the Utah researchers who has published earlier studies showing drivers on the phone are at higher risk of accidents.
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The Utah researchers say that's not enough.
"We have shown in previous studies there's no difference between hand-held and hands-free," Drews said. "There is a (more dangerous) component when people are dialing the phone or searching for the cell phone in the briefcase on the seat beside them, but what distracts people when talking on a cell phone is the conversation, not holding the phone."
The researchers recruited 40 men and women ages 22 to 34 and tested them as they operated a PatrolSim driving simulator equipped with a steering wheel, dashboard instruments and brake and gas pedals from a Ford Crown Victoria sedan. While at the wheel, the driver was surrounded by screens showing daylight freeway traffic.
The test was performed on four different days--once when they were unimpaired and undistracted. On subsequent tests, each drove once while talking on a hand-held cell phone; once while talking on a hands-free phone, and once after drinking vodka and orange juice until they reached a 0.08 blood alcohol level.
When driving while talking on either type of cell phone, the driver was engaged in casual conversation with a research assistant on topics of interest to the