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Choose your level of impairment: you can either a) drive drunk, or b) drive while talking on the phone.

April 20th, 2013 3 comments


The milestone that stands out among teenagers’ exciting and memorable lives is getting one’s license. The excitement that comes with the accomplishment of a driver’s license dominates the high school years sending teens into a euphoric state of independence. Over time, and as licensed teens grow older, parents are likely to sit down with their kids to stress the importance of never getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol because of the dangers of drunk driving. Increasingly over the past few years parents have also recognized the importance of giving the same advice in regards to driving while talking on the phone. There is growing awareness of the need to outlaw cell phone use in the car, especially given the new texting and driving phenomenon (, however drunk driving and cell phone driving are still not seen as comparable dangers.

Nearly everyone will talk on a cell phone while driving at some point during his or her life. Some people need to make urgent business calls, some people call a friend to ask for


directions, and some people just get bored on their drive home from work. David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, discusses in his research on distracted driving that approximately 8% of drivers on the road at any given time throughout the day are using their cell phone (Glassbrenner, 2005). A majority of drivers believe that phone calls don’t have a distracting effect on them especially if they are using a hands-free device. However, Strayer and his colleagues have found that the attention demanding nature of cell phone conversations make the damaging effects of distracted driving, hands-free device or not, present in nearly all drivers (e.g., Patten et al. 2004; Redelemeier & Tibshirani, 1997; Strayer & Johnston, 2001), save some appropriately named “supertaskers” (Watson & Strayer, 2010) who showed no impairment while talking and driving.

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