The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all states pass complete bans on using phones and other electronic devices while driving. In Oregon, lawmakers passed a law in 2009 that requires drivers to use a hands-free device if they want to use a phone while driving. This year they made the law more strict by removing most exceptions for business calls and banning all text messaging.
Opponents of such laws argue that these kinds of policies are not backed up by science. While there is ample evidence that texting while driving is dangerous, researchers like Richard Young at the Wayne State University say that it’s not talking that’s dangerous, it’s taking your eyes off the road that’s risky. He says that the act of dialing is a problem, but just having a conversation on your phone — with or without a hands-free device — does not pose a danger.
Do you use a hands free device when talking on your cell phone while driving? Do you flout Oregon or Washington law by talking on your cell phone without a hands free device while driving? Do you feel you are putting yourself or others on the road at risk? Why or why not?
- Deborah Hersman: Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board
- Richard Young: Professor of Cognative Neuroscience at Wayne State University