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Majority admit to cellphone use while driving, think others doing same are a threat

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A research group, reported 69 percent of motorists said they talked on a cellphone while driving within the last month, and 89 percent of those surveyed believe other drivers using cellphones are a threat to their own safety, according to a recent survey by AAA.

Florida is one of 11 states that does not ban texting and driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, ten states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban all cellphone use while driving.

Michele Harris, director of Traffic Safety Culture for AAA Florida, said drivers are overconfident while engaging in technology because they feel invincible on the roads.

“Research shows that talking on cellphones slows your reaction time and your recovery time regardless of your age and regardless of your experience on the road,” she said.”They assume that whatever risk they are going to take that they can handle that risk and unfortunately that assumption is totally wrong.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported more than 3,000 people died in 2010 due to distracted driving related cases and about 500,000 are injured each year in crashes involving distracted drivers.

According to a press release from the AAA, the numbers may be underestimated because of challenges in determining the role of distraction in crashes.

“Just looking down for those five seconds it takes to dial someone’s phone number, you’ve already looked down five seconds off the road,” she said. “That’s like driving the length of a football field including the end zones without looking on the road.”

She said the reaction time of texting while driving compares to that of while drinking and driving. Teenagers are the riskiest drivers because they are so connected to technology, but distracted driving affects everyone, she said.

“You never know when you can face distracted driving,” she said. “It can be in the morning. It can be in plain daylight. The dangers are everywhere all the time when you’re on the road.”

Hands-free technology has been thought to lessen the problem, but she said it’s still distracting since it takes motorists’ brains off the road. She said people need to start taking responsibility for their actions.

“We have to be responsible enough to say, ‘My conversation and my two-second message that I need to tell someone that I’m on my way isn’t important enough for me to endanger my life, the life of my children or the life of that person that is just trying to get home to their family tonight.”‘

Chris Kirschner wrote this story online. 

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