Deadly Consequences of Mixing Cell Phones and Vehicle Operation


Posted on 24th September 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Just yesterday I was driving down a busy main street when a young girl pulled across traffic in front of me, narrowly missing a car in the oncoming traffic, all the while chatting animatedly on her cell phone. Its not the first close encounter I have had, not that long ago I was rear ended by an uninsured driver who openly admitted she wasn’t paying attention because she was on the phone. We’ve all had these close encounters in the past few years and the public’s awareness of the danger of driving while talking on a cell phone is not the issue, its the awareness of just how deadly the consequences can be. There have been some very tragic consequences in the headlines recently.

On Tuesday a Florida Highway Patrol report confirmed that truck driver, Reinaldo Gonzalez of Orlanda, had been on his cell phone when he slammed into a school bus which was stopped to let off children. A stop sign and flashing lights were not enough to alert a distracted driver. A 13 year old child was killed and several injured as a result. The driver of the truck leapt to safety before the two vehicles burst into flame. The occupants of the school bus weren’t so fortunate.

This tragic accident comes on the heels of a deadly train crash in California that killed 25 people. It is suspected that texting played a role in the crash. Two teenage train buffs disclosed that they had received a text message from the engineer just a moment before the crash. No phone was found at the scene.

Whether its texting or talking, government studies confirm that distracted drivers account for nearly 8 out of 10 collisions or near-crashes. “A researcher who worked on the 2006 study, Charlie Klauer of the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute, says the crash risk was doubled when a driver looked away from the road for two seconds out of six.”

Much of the focus of studies has been on young drivers. What makes these stories newsworthy is that in both cases adults were in control of vehicles capable of deadly destruction. This escalates the problem significantly. There is a big difference between a moment of distraction in a car and a moment of distraction in a train engine or a tractor trailer. The ability to react quickly is greatly reduced. As such, both drivers in these instances had a greater obligation to be diligent in the operation of these vehicles and should be under stricter guidelines for the operation of their vehicles.