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15 December 2009
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Q. How dangerous is it to use a mobile phone or send a text message while driving?

A. The use of a mobile phone, whether hands-free or not, increases your risk of an accident fourfold. Text messaging while driving is irresponsible; the risk is off the scale. Studies at a driving simulation laboratory in the University of Utah show that eye contact with the road is minimal when people are texting and driving. There is a video available on the New York Times website (Google 'New York Times Distracted Drivers') which shows the dangers. The American Automobile Association has the following advice to give on the use of a hands-free mobile phone while driving:

  • Use voicemail and return the call when you are stopped at a safe location.
  • Use the mobile phone only when absolutely necessary. Save casual conversations for times when your vehicle is stopped. Plan your conversation in advance, and keep it short - especially in hazardous conditions (rain, ice, etc).
  • Let the person you're speaking with know you're driving.
  • Do not engage in emotional conversations while driving. Pull off the road to a safe spot before continuing this type of conversation.
  • Do not combine distracting activities such as talking on your mobile phone while driving, eating and tending to a child.