phone use is the leading cause of crashes that can be blamed
on driver distraction, according to a study by the California
Highway Patrol. The study stopped short of recommending legislation
to ban talking on the phone while driving.
Kohler, a CHP spokesman in Sacramento, said, “Until we have
a better understanding of the nature and magnitude of any
safety-related problem, our goal should be to enhance safety
education rather than restrict access to any particular device
or system, including cell phones.”
the first six months of 2002, there were 491,083 drivers
involved in traffic collisions in California. Driver “inattention” was
a cause in slightly more than 1 percent of the collisions.
collision reports filed by the CHP and local police officers,
the use of a cell phone was the most common reason the driver
was distracted. Cell phones played a role in 11 percent of
the collisions related to driver distraction.
with the radio tuner or CD player was the primary distraction
for nearly as many collisions as cell phones, with 9 percent
of collisions caused by that type of driver distraction.
Other factors of distraction included tending to children,
eating, reading, smoking, tending to animals and grooming.
largest category – accounting for two-thirds of collisions
in which the driver was distracted – was “other,” which includes
daydreaming, visual distractions and reading street signs.
Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, is sponsoring legislation to require
drivers to use hands-free technology that would allow them
to talk on the phone while keeping both hands on the steering
was pleased that, for the first time, the department has
said it's time to look at the hands-free approach,” said
Simitian, whose bill is scheduled to come before the Assembly's
Transportation Committee March 3.