There is a national debate going on over the safety of cell phone use by car drivers. Most people agree that cell phones can be a serious distraction and distracted driving can lead to car accidents. As a result, cell phones have been demonized. Cities and states across the union are resorting to various kinds of cell phone bans to protect citizens on the road. But the other side of the debate, that cell phones can actually save lives, is largely ignored.
According to Cleveland.com, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland is personally struggling with whether communication technology in vehicles is a good thing or not. He knows that the presence of cell phones and other electronics can present distractions that lead to car accidents. In fact, 90 percent of auto accidents are the fault of the driver. Therefore, improving vehicle safety will rely heavily on understanding driver behavior. This is why places have enacted bans, instead of educating the dangers of distracted driving.
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On the other hand, unlike other experts, Strickland has also expressed the belief that new communication technologies can help rescue workers respond to accidents in a more efficient and timely manner, which could save lives. While he would not comment on the NHTSA’s plans regarding a potential cell phone ban, Strickland did say he believed the technology would be lifesaving once the distraction issues are settled. He cited the fact that the number of car accident deaths has decreased overall since 2009 despite increases in the number of drivers on the road. Technology that would allow cars to communicate not only with rescue workers but with each other are “game-changing technology.”
Ultimately experts agree texting while driving is never safe and it is probably less risky to use a hands free device if talking on a cell phone while driving. But cell phones should not be demonized and viewed as the bane of American drivers. They must be treated as tools that, if used properly, can save lives.
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