Cell phone use while driving more dangerous than previously thought - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cell phone use while driving more dangerous than previously thought

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WASHINGTON. - Newly released government documents reveal cell phone use while driving is more dangerous than you were told.

Through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, consumer advocacy groups 'Public Citizen' and 'The Center for Auto Safety' released the full findings of government research documents saying talking and texting while driving is a dangerous distraction.

Margaret Kwoka, attorney for the group Public Citizen, said, "Whether you're doing that on hands-free device or on a hand held cell phone the distraction of the conversation causes the increased likelihood of a car crash."

Public Citizen says since 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to disclose the research.

"NHTSA knew years back that hands free devices did not eliminate the risk of talking on the cell phone while driving," said Kwoka.

The U.S. Transportation Department did not comment on claims the agency withheld data, but released the following statement, "Distracted driving causes crashes and we want to stress that the best way to avoid accidents is for drivers to keep their eyes and their concentration on the road when they get behind the wheel."

Not all states ban the use of cell phones while driving. Laws vary from state to state. Some states have even banned drivers 18 and younger from using handheld and hands-free electronic devices.

There are also recent examples and surveillance video of experienced drivers and operators distracted on the job.

Texting bus drivers have been caught drifting across highways or running red lights.

A trolley driver in Boston, reportedly texting his girlfriend, slammed into another trolley.

In Los Angeles in September 2008, a commuter rail crash killed 25 people. The engineer had been texting.

According to The New York Times, the former National Highway Safety head explained he was urged not to disclose the findings to avoid antagonizing members of Congress.
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