Cell phones: a call for driving accidents, cancer

By Brad Diamond
October 28, 2005

Kyle Foley

Cell phones have spread in our society like wildfire in recent years, but they may be endangering us more than we realize, enough so that laws are being made to prevent their use. The United States had over 190 million cell phone users as of June 2005, compared to approximately 4.3 million in 1990.

And these aren’t your average phones. The days of the Zack Morris cell phone/hand-held computer are over. Every day it seems that these devices are getting smaller and more technologically advanced. However, when the lack of focus that comes with talking on the phone is combined with the concentration that driving a car entails, there are bound to be problems.

Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year. The dialing process calls for an individual to take their eyes off of the road, which is obviously never a good idea. Furthermore, some people get so wrapped up, especially in an emotional phone call, that they completely lose the necessary focus to drive a car.

New York and New Jersey have already banned cell phone use in cars. Pennsylvania has allowed individual jurisdictions to make their own decisions on the topic, while Delaware has only banned the use of cell phones by school bus drivers. New York, which was the first state to enforce this much debated law, issues fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for any offenses thereafter. New Jersey’s penalties are less, ranging from $100 to $250.

When asked if cell phone use in cars should be banned, Janette Mochnacz, a junior English and communication major, said, “I guess it depends on the circumstance, such as emergencies, but long conversations in the car are unnecessary and can be dangerous.”

Another debatable topic concerning cell phones would be the health problems that they may or may not cause. What cannot be argued is that extreme exposure to radiofrequency radiation can have serious health effects. However, cell phones only put out a certain level of radiation, which many people believe not to be harmless.

Studies show there is no evidence that the low levels of radiofrequency radiation emitted by hand-held cellular phones cause cancer. On the other hand, others have argued that because of the length of time that some are on cell phones, the radiation could be taking its toll.

“There is no research supporting it,” Corinne Szymczak, a sophomore English and secondary education major, said. “If we could get cancer from cell phones, then we could get cancer from other things too, like microwaves,” Szymczak said.

The way that cell phones are running rapid these days, it seems that not many people are concerned about possible health hazards.

Maybe you have been bothered by that person at the movie theater who forgot to turn theirs off, or you hate listening to other people’s conversations everywhere you go. Maybe you hate showing your parents how to use theirs. You encouraged them to “get with the times,” but you didn’t realize that you would be the one teaching them how to use the cell phone. It seems that those small problems with cell phones have been dwarfed by the amount of lives lost because of the attention that they demand, especially behind the wheel.

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: Loquitur@yahoogroups.com. The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

Brad Diamond

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