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Cell Phones and Highway Safety


Submitted By applecandy
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Wireless telecommunication technologies are rapidly becoming a significant concern in regard to highway safety. Almost 90 million people subscribe to wireless telephone services, and 85 percent of those subscribers use their phones while driving to conduct business, report emergencies, stay in touch with loved ones, call for assistance, and report aggressive or drunk drivers.

It's not just phones on the road anymore. In 1999, two major auto manufacturers -General Motors and Ford- formed agreements with telecommunications companies that will enhance wireless features in even more vehicles. Future cars will provide drivers with concierge services, web-based information, online e-mail capabilities, CD-ROM access, on-screen and audio navigation technology, and a variety of other information and entertainment services.

Telecommunications companies say that new technology in cars not only will improve commerce but highway safety as well. Already, an estimated 98,000 emergency calls are placed by cell phone users each day, and billions of dollars of business may be transacted by drivers each year. Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have concluded that cellular phones often reduce emergency response times and actually save lives. New technology also may make it easier for people to drive more safely on the road.

State policymakers, however, must weigh the promises of wireless technology in cars against the growing evidence of the potential dangers. The 1997 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that the distraction caused by phone use in motor vehicles quadrupled the risk of a collision during the brief period of a call, a rate equivalent to the impairment caused by legal intoxication. Other studies - conducted in the United States as well as in

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