It's not the cell phones; they are just the latest whipping boy for our popular culture. It is, plain and simple, inattentive drivers. People have been doing this for years; how many times have you been in rush hour traffic and looked over and seen some bimbo in a Lexus using her rearview mirror to put on her makeup while whizzing by at 80 mph, or some idiot trying to shave?
What we need aren't anti-cellphone laws; those are just the current popular bandwagon politicians are using to make it look like they're doing something. I've been using a cellphone in a car since I started driving, and have never had a problem. It's called judgement and proper division of attention. Too many people don't know when to drop the phone and drive, or divert their attentional resources from the road to their conversation.
How is talking on a cellphone differant from trying to eat a Big Mac or grab a CD out of the back seat, or quiet screaching children? I don't know; maybe since I'm young and have always been exposed to cellphones and cars it's easier, I don't have to adapt. Or maybe it has something to do with my flight experience, strict training on division of attention and operating vehicals; when to talk versus when to fly (drive).
Personally, I wouldn't mind stricter liscensing for drivers in this country. Make the road test more than back out, drive around the block, and park back in the spot, there you go son, now you can drive anything under 20,000 lbs. Restricted liscensing maybe; we have it allready; you need a special liscense for a motorcycle, or a 5th wheel trailer, or a large truck. Why not make it:
Sports cars (>300 hp & 2 seats or fewer)
Light trucks (mini sport-utes, minivans, Rangers, S-10's ect)
Medium-duty trucks (Most pickup trucks and SUV's)
Heavy duty trucks (F-350's to whatever requires a CDL)
Extra ratings for towing trailers and using cellular phones too.
And, just plain better driver training; require people to spend an hour out on a skid pad to learn how the vehical behaves near it's traction limit and on slippery surfaces. I was lucky; I had access to a small airport when I was a teenager, and often times could go out blasting around the taxiways before I had to plow, learning how my car handled with hardly any traction, and what those limits were. Have people realize what happens when their SUV has a blowout at 75 mph (Car and Driver did a study with Ford Explorers when they were having that tread seperation problem. You know what happens in a blowout at speed in those things? Nothing- they keep going in a straight line, with a slight pull to one side. Aggressive braking coupled with frantic steering inputs, however, resulted in much differant, but STILL benign handling. You had to WORK at it to get one to flip)
Now that THAT long winded rant is done with...
Cell phones + inattentive drivers + poor judgement + bad luck = accident
and the ONLY one of those that will prevent the accident if it were removed is bad luck. The next biggest factor is the inattentive driver, followed by poor judgement, then would come a host of other things, and way down that list are cell phone. Just look at the statistics- there has not been a MAJOR rise in motor vehical accident rates in the past 2 years, when cell phone usage has skyrocketed. While cell phones have been a factor in more accidents; it may just as well be that there are MORE CELL PHONES out there, therefore more of them were in use at the time of the accident. If cell phones were CAUSING more accidents, we would see accident rates SKYROCKET in the past 5 years, when they have done anything but the sort:
In New York State (the first relevant hit I got from a google search, and probibly a good representative with major urban AND rural areas http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/mvacc2000.htm
) the Fatal and Injury Accident rate in 1991 was 177.5/100 million vehical miles. In 1995 it was 165.6, and in 2000 was 151.2. This is a rise over the previous 2 years, in 1999 it reached a low of 145.6, however, note the FaI accident rate per 10,000 POPULATION continuted down in that year, from 101.2 in '99 to 100.2 in 2000.