The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a federal agency who’s function is keeping US roadways safe, suppressed research from seven years ago on the dangers of cell phone use while driving, fearing political fallout from the study, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Two US consumer groups -- The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen – were able to get the findings released only after filing court orders under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NHTSA research, which tracked cell phone use by US drivers in 2002, found that year 955 people were killed during 240,000 roadway accidents while speaking or texting on a cell phone.
This was seven years ago, how much has cell phone use increased since then? How many more must be dying now?
Hands-free headsets favored by a growing number of jurisdictions only partly resolve the problem, since the studies showed that the main accident risk is caused by the phone conversation itself, when a driver's focus is off the road.
"We're looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up," said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, and quoted by The Times.
It is this writer's personal opinion that if there was a Nation Wide ban on cell phone use while driving we would not see a decrease in their use. Cell phones receive messages, and if a call is important a driver can pull over and answer it.
It is also my opinion that a huge percentage of cell phone calls are not in the least important, and most are nothing more than idle chit-chat between friends and family.