Cell Phone-Blessing or Curse?

June 25, 2007

Nearly every state has debated or is currently considering laws regulating the use of cell phones while driving. So far, only New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia have actually enacted legislation “partially” limiting cell phone use to allow headsets or other hands-free devices only.

Critics say that “heads” not “hands” are the problem. The mental process of carrying on a conversation is more distracting than the physical use of the phone. Safety experts fear that partial bans such as these may give drivers the green light to use hands-free devices and actually encourage more use. Research conducted in Norway and Sweden showed that drivers using headsets tended to make more calls and drive faster. A recent study indicates that headset voice dialing is almost twice as slow as finger dialing, prolonging time on the phone.

Some large corporations have established bans on use of cell phones while driving on company business, both as a safety precaution for their employees and to possibly avoid liability. We urge you to consider this or other safety measures to encourage sensible use of cell phones in vehicles.

Claims data compiled by Federated show that "driver distractions and inattentive driver" are listed as cause-of-loss factors in 63 percent of vehicle accidents.

Safety tips for cell phone use in vehicles:

  • Don’t “hunt” for a ringing phone that’s out of reach.
  • If you must talk, keep it short.
  • Pull over and stop to carry on a conversation.
  • Have a passenger take the call and relay the highpoints.
  • Don’t address emotional or distressing issues while driving.
  • Use voice-mail instead of answering calls.


This article provided courtesy of Federated Mutual Insurance Company, your association’s recommended insurer.



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