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Chatting to a Distraction

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Chatting to a Distraction

Chatting to a Distraction

(Argumentative Essay)


I. Cell Phone Distractions

A. visual, mechanical, and cognitive

B. conversational distraction drives

C. driving performance studies

II. Hands-free versus handheld cell phones

A. David Strayer’s study

B. Auto Test Facility study

C. Redelmeier and Tibshirani’s study

D. Governors Highway Safety Association

III. Drunk driving vs. Cell Phones

A. University of Utah study

B. Transport Research Laboratory study

IV. Critics viewpoints

A. personal freedom

B. different levels of multi-tasking

C. It’s no more dangerous than talking to a passenger

D. Not enforceable

E. emergency phone calls

V. Rebuttal to the critics of cell phone ban

On July 25, 2002, Kimberly and Kathy Seager hopped into a vehicle with their brother, Matthew, and headed to Buckeye Lake for a late night walk. Kimberly and Kathy’s father followed them to allow his son to experience some independence and join in on the usual walk. While waiting for a train to pass at a railroad crossing, Matthew’s car was plowed from behind by a twenty-three year old man. He never attempted to hit the brakes because he was preoccupied with his cell phone. Kimberly’s head injury was worse than Kathy’s, and the doctors predicted Kim would not survive this accident. After several days in the hospital struggling to stay alive, Kimberly and Kathy Seager were pronounced brain dead at 11:00 am on Monday, July 29, 2002. The girls had their whole lives ahead of them, but this tragic accident changed everything because of one conversation at the wrong time (Seager, Amy).

Cell phones are now a hot topic. Debates on whether they should be banned from the highway for safety issues are swarming the media. Much controversy has occurred over what degree a cell phone distracts the driver and whether or not cell phones are a greater disturbance than any other everyday car distraction such as: eating, talking with a passenger, or attending to children in the back seat. Cell phones should be banned from the highways, except in an emergency, as a safety issue because of the unnecessary, preventable injuries and fatalities that occur.

Many studies have been conducted to determine to what degree a driver is distracted when using a cell phone. Experts from the study group Human Factors state there are basically three types of distractions while driving. The first is visual, and an example of this would be looking away from the road. The second is mechanical which includes dialing a number into a cell phone or adjusting the radio. The third is cognitive. This is the actual mindset of the driver during a conversation or internal thinking. Hands-free sets solve the visual and mechanical distractions; however, the cognitive distraction still poses a substantial threat. The mind of the driver is not on driving; it is caught up in a telephone conversation. (Lee) A study conducted by Strayer and Johnston in 2001 focused on the actual phone conversation rather than the visual and mechanical distractions of a cell phone. They hypothesized that attention diverted towards the conversation itself may be causing driving impairment. They reported that subjects conversing missed twice as many traffic signals and took longer to react to the signals that they did see compared to non-cell phone users. In another study conducted by Aston University in Birmingham for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, drivers were observed driving on a simulated road while being interrupted by mobile phone calls for several minutes. The driving performance was measured compared to “average” traffic conditions, and the results indicated that it is not so much the device itself that causes the problem but the degree to which a driver becomes involved with it. A driving distraction that occupies the driver involved mentally and physically is more dangerous than other every day distractions.

Another list of studies has incorporated

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