Local News

Safety Experts Call For Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving

Posted September 21, 2005

— Every year, thousands of teenagers die behind the wheel of a vehicle, and they're often talking on cell phones when the crash occurs. This week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended banning cell phone use among young drivers when they are on the road.

"If you're having like a whole conversation, you're getting into it, it can distract from your driving," teen David Romney said.

According to

NTSB

, eight states already outlaw cell phone use among young drivers. North Carolina is not one of them, but mounting evidence suggests maybe it should be, experts said.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among drivers between the ages of 15 and 20. About 122 of those drivers die in crashes each week.

Safety experts said they believe cell phones contribute to many of those deaths.

"It's really the cognitive activity," of thinking while talking on the cell phone, that contributes to crashes, Rob Foss, of the

UNC Highway Safety Research Center

, said. And the danger is increased with young drivers, he said, because "they are more easily distracted."

This year, North Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill to ban people 18 and younger from talking on cell phones while driving. The bill died.

"The use of cell phones while driving should be prohibited for everybody. Period," Foss said.

Foss said he believes the use of cell phones while driving may one day be like seat belts.

Remember the outcry when it was mandated to wear seat belts while driving, Foss said.

Not using cell phones while driving, he added, may become second nature as well if a law were passed.

Photographer:

Ken Bodine

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