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Silence Your Cell Phone...in the Car

Silence Your Cell Phone...in the Car

Many states have enacted laws banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving (take it from this writer, who was pulled over for using one and narrowly avoided a $100 fine, thanks to an understanding officer), but experts say the problem isn't with the gadget in your hand—it's with your noggin.

Your safety is at risk if your attention is diverted from the road, and even if you're using a hands-free device, that intense phone conversation with grandma about your 4th of July plans could distract you enough to miss a pedestrian who is trying to cross the road. Some experts say that using a cell phone while driving can be worse than driving drunk.

In a 2005 study, researchers gave a group of drivers four trial runs; a sober, cell phone-free drive; one legally intoxicated spin behind the wheel; a road test while conversing using a handheld cell phone; and one with a wireless cell phone device. The verdict: Cell phone users—handheld or hands-free—had an 18% slower reaction to braking their vehicles than those who went beyond the legal blood alcohol limit. Cell phone users also tended to lag behind a car in front of them, slowing traffic and worsening jammed roadways.

Listening to chatter while driving isn’t as easy as you thought. Try to keep cell phone babble to a minimum in the car—and you’ll automatically live healthier every day! [Los Angeles Times]

Posted: 7/1/08