Researchers at the University of Utah have found motorists who use cell phone while driving are as impaired as drunk drivers. Assistant Professor of Psychology and study co-author stated, “We found that people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit. If legislators really want to address driver distraction, then they should consider outlawing cell phone use while driving.” The legal blood-alcohol limit is .08 in most states.
The study’s lead author added, “Just like you put yourself and other people at risk when you drive drunk, you put yourself and others at risk when you use a cell phone and drive. The level of impairment is very similar.” Researchers were not surprised by the study as it only reinforced earlier research that hands free cell phones were as bad as hand held. The problem was the distraction of the conversation, not the distraction of actually holding the phone.
Because cell phone use by motorists is on the incline, there is cause for concern. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association indicated that more than 100 million motorists use cell phones while they drive. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration provides estimates that 8 percent of all drivers on the road at any point of day are talking on a cell phone.