Globalization trend has made cellular phones no longer a mere technological innovation meant for fashion. Cellular phones, especially for the young generation are already a vital part of their everyday life to the point of feeling insecurity without them. We have seen the importance of the cellular phones in our everyday life, especially for parents who always wanted to monitor the affairs of their kids. People in the field of business have seen the importance of having cellular phones in their daily communication requirements.
As much as there has been a good side of the presence of cellular phones, the said technology has caused people damages. They are already being used to exploit or violate the rights of others for privacy (mobile phone with camera), to spread malicious ideas and information and are being used in schools for cheating in examinations. What is new and alarming is that these pieces of technology have been recently linked to car accidents as youngsters and even adults carry and used them while driving.
The cities of 1New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington and the District of Columbia has already recognized the risks of using hand-held cellular phones and they have actually passed laws banning the use of them while driving. There are evidences available to prove the danger of cellular phones while on the road and if other cities and states have considered them, Alabama should. Recent studies show that drivers who used their cell phone while driving are four times more prone to accident.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported in 1997 that the crash caused by using cellular phones while driving is equal to that of resulting from drunk-driving (Frankenfield, Gay 2000). Like all other issues, the cell phone ban issue was not exempted from debate. Skeptics insist that accidents caused by distractions from cell phones while driving amounts to small percentage of the total car accident records and that it is not worth the attention it has drawing the public today. The oft-repeated driving with a cell phone equals drunk driving comment is based on a small 1997 Canadian study that didn’t take other driving distractions into account” (Weistein, Lauren 2002). Lauren in his article cited a “comprehensive study” done by the University of North Carolina in 2001 which reported only 1. 5% of reported distracted driving accidents account for cell phone use. Assuming the results reported by the University of North California study is accurate. Still it is the issue should not be taken for granted.
What are at risk are not properties, but lives and the future of the people involved. One should take note that car accidents do not only involve the life of the driver but its passengers. What is worse is that they involve other cars on the road and the people behind the wheels. Reports say that 89% of car accidents involved other vehicles. Moreover more than half of these drivers said that their crashes happened within ten minutes after starting the trip (McEnvoy, et. al 2004). What could have been the closest reason for such accidents? One thing: distraction. “Common sense as well as experience tell us that handling and dialing cell phones while driving compromise safety, and evidence is accumulating that phone conversations also increase crash risk. ” The age groups that are at high risk are those 16-17 years old. The famous youth-oriented magazine 3Seventeen together with the American Automobile Association surveyed in 2007 this age group and found that 61% of them admitted that they the habit of using cell phone while driving. Of the 61%, 46% of them admitted to be sending text messages while 51% talk over their cell phones while driving.
In another report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that 85% of all cellular phone users are using the device while driving. While we can say that not the whole figure accounts for car accidents, there are evidences that show the rate is already alarming. In Oklahoma alone, studies found that cell phone use while driving already recorded nine times more fatalities according to the three-year study (NHTSA, cited in Frankenfield, Gay 2000). The said research body stressed that only Oklahoma has the related data.
This could have been the reason why skeptics are citing only 1. % of the accounted accidents. Should the government and other concerned bodies find time to make more thorough studies on the issue, it is likely that the will find higher rates. The National Transportation Safety Board recently confirmed that the age group of 15-20 years old recorded the highest percentage of death caused by car accidents (Tecson, Brandee J. 2005). In California, the issue is still debated upon in the congress. Proponents of the bill cited justify their stand by pointing to studies which say that 3“although teenage drivers are just 6% of licensed drivers, they account for 16% of auto accident fatalities”.
California lawmakers further stressed that there are on the average 17 kids the United States is losing everyday for reason of car accidents linked to distraction. While most studies and cities proposing cell phone ban while driving focus on the teenage groups, I would argue that the efficiency of the law will be better if nobody is exempted. Moreover I insist on banning not only hand-held cellular phone but all kinds of mobile phones while driving not just in Alabama or in the cities of the United States but in all countries of the world where there are cars, cell phone and people involved.
In 1Australian study in Perth done in July 2005 suggests that “banning only hand-held phones wouldn’t necessarily improve safety, because using hand-free phones may be just as dangerous. ” One of the authors of the study entitled “Role of cellular phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance” done in April 2002 to Jul 2004, said that “Male and female drivers experienced about the same increase in risk from using a phone. ” The same is true with drivers older and younger than 30 and drivers using hand-held and hands-free phones (Redelmeier, D. A. and R. J. Tibshirani 1997).
In short, nobody should be exempted and no country should be hesitant to implement such law. While there should have been enough studies to justify cell phone ban law, there are still concerns raised by many as to the implementation of the law. One of these concerns is the fact that it will not be that easy for the authorities to monitor the drivers using cell phones. Let us consider figures that support their concerns. In the United States alone, there are more than 236 million subscribers of wireless communication devices as of May 2007 according to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.
The same body compared such figures to only 4. 3 million in 1990. Let us assume that of these subscribers, more than half are drivers. At first glance, the argument of the enforceability of the cell phone ban law could have been valid, that is, it would be too hard for the authorities to monitor its implementation. Others argue that our policemen patrolling on highways of the United States would not be enough to closely monitor drivers who are using their cell phones while driving. The most immediate solution of adding more of them, others argue, will no longer be practical.
Others stressed that if the law will be implemented, then authorities would find themselves waving on every car in the highway because surely most of them will be violating the law. However in my opinion these are not reasons of responsible citizens and of people who are concerned with the lives of others. To impede cell phone ban law would suggest that one is so self-centered that he considers only his needs and wants and disregard the concern of others. There is one more thing to consider when we are to analyze the skepticism of other lawmakers on banning cell phone use while driving.
Looking back at the number of wireless technology subscribers, we can see a clear link between these numbers and politics. Clearly, mobile phone users are a significant percentage of the whole American population. The biggest consideration that these lawmakers might be considering is their political future. Clearly many cell phone users would object to the cell phone ban since a habit would be taken out of their daily routine. Let us say that most of these people are addicted to talking over the phone while driving or just being part of refraining from being bored thus avoiding getting sleepy.
It would therefore mean that proponents of banning cell phone use while driving is like taking the risk of losing in the next election. “Part of the reason is the political clout of 76 million cell phone users aside from the fact that just about every politician owns and uses a cell phone” (Sundeen, Matt cited in Frankenfield, Gay 2000). Despite this, the positions of the other 300 municipalities who are considering the cell phone ban law are highly appreciated. I would insist that the bill should be seriously considered in Alabama.
Like all other cities and states, the lives of others at risk should be enough reason for lawmakers to pass it into law. The bill should be analyzed in parallel with the benefits of the seat belt law. Consider that before it was passed and implemented, it had the same sort of concerns and criticisms as that of the cell phone ban bill. However after years of its implementation, records proved that it has been beneficial and efficient in reducing fatalities in car accidents. The concern of monitoring all drivers and passengers for using seatbelts has also been considered in the same way as other cities did on cell phone ban law.
We are talking about life and death here. We have lost lives in highways directly linked to distraction while driving and studies have established the fact that cell phone use is directly involved in many cases. If other bills can wait, cell phone ban cannot. We should not take the risk of waiting for studies to finish and see if there are significant data that could support its legalization. Lives lost can no more be brought back. Lawmakers have families too and they might as well have teenage children who may become a victim in the near future. Let us be realistic enough in trying to consider risks of lives on the road.
While we recognize the fact that cell phones are already an inevitable part of the modern world, globalization trend does not offer immunity to accidents nor can technological pieces like cell phones protect us from dying or at least being hurt from car crashes. Moreover the price of the most expensive cell phone available cannot comfort the bereaved family of those who were victims of one’s failure to take safety measures. Finally, this paper argues that cell phone ban should be taken into consideration in the most as soon as possible. We should not wait.
Let us remember that there are 17 kids who are losing their lives everyday due to car accidents. Should we wait for another seventeen, or fourteen, twenty one and more for each day that we come to think of it? Should lawmakers wait for their kids to become victims before they take action? The most effective means of fighting against car accidents is prevention and it should be now. There is no room for waiting because lives are losing at each time the clock ticks. My final position is that 1“it seems reasonable to assert that using a cell phone while driving is a safety risk worth eliminating. ”