Ever since you were little, it has been drilled into your head that driving drunk was a big “no-no.” Did you ever think talking on your cell phone and driving could be worse?
Numerous studies have shown that this generation norm is becoming an increased problem. In a recent study, done by two graduate students at the University of California, Berkley, found that “The most notable of the over 125 studies has concluded that cell phones produce a four-fold increase in relative crash risk-comparable to that produced by illicit levels of alcohol.”
“I really don’t believe it,” junior education major Jessica Sampson said. Most students interviewed on campus felt the same way as Sampson.
“I entirely disagree. If you’re a bad driver to begin with – which most people are – then you’re going to be a horrible driver [no matter what you do],” Nick Weiss, a senior business administration and human resources major said.
In another study, detailed in the summer 2006 issue of The Journal “Human Factors,” researchers at the University of Utah found that driving through traffic while on your cell phone increased the likelihood of an accident.
They also reported that it didn’t matter whether you used a hands-free device, like Bluetooth.
“Driving with a phone is fine during the day and in traffic,” George Walter, senior criminology major, said.
This study has also gained the attention of Hollywood. ?Back in 2005, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the hosts of the hit Discovery channel TV show, “MythBusters,” confirmed that it is just as dangerous to talk on a cell phone while driving as it is to drive drunk.
The two hosts arranged an obstacle course into four parts: accelerating to 30mph and then stopping at a stop sign, parallel parking, seeing how long it would take to do 15mph through the whole course, and while going 30mph, being told to switch left, right or center lane. Each part was graded by an instructor.
During a sober run of the course, both test drivers passed. ?However, during the cell phone run, Hyneman asked the drivers three questions in which they had to either think about the answer, repeat a sentence, figure out a verbal puzzle and list five things. Both drivers failed the obstacle course.
During the drunk driving run, both drivers got their blood alcohol level to just below the legal limit of 0.08.
The first driver failed the test, however not nearly as badly as with the cell phone test.
The second driver failed the parking test and “half failed” the time trial for not looking both ways.
Overall, the cell phone tests were failed by a much bigger margin, though Savage’s observation was that you can put down a cell phone, you can’t instantly get “undrunk.”
“More people talk on their cell phone than drive drunk,” Weiss said.
According to the University of Utah study, “While talking on the phone, the drivers lost track of vital visual information–such as whether a traffic light was red.”
“I definitely feel distracted, but not destructed,” Nicole Necci, junior elementary education major, said about talking on her cell phone while driving.
So the next time you’re in your car and about to make a phone call, stop and think of the danger you may be putting yourself in. Etienne Cicilia, sophomore undecided major, said it best. “Both are pretty irresponsible.”