Pols, Drivers Dial Up Cell Phone Danger

It's just as bad as drunk driving, and millions do it
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2009 10:15 AM CDT
Although any type of phone conversation draws critical mental resources away from surprises on the roadway, the most dangerous phone-related activities in the car are texting and dialing.   (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
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(Newser) – Driving while talking on the phone—regardless of whether you're using a hands-free device—impairs your attention and reflexes as much as a blood alcohol content of .08, according to studies. With 81% of drivers admitting to gabbing in traffic, it might seem that stricter laws are inevitable, writes the New York Times—but there's a catch.

"It’s a political nonstarter,” says a California state senator about expanding legislation to ban drivers from using hands-free devices. And many states have steered clear of banning handheld phones, for fear that such rules might condone those still-distracting hands-free calls. Plus, as one legislator says, "I’m on the phone from when I leave the Capitol to when I get home, and that’s a two-hour drive." (Read more cell phones stories.)