Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yet Another Coverup

When I have not been walking all day giving tours at Lambeau Field ("The home of YOUR Green Bay Packers!") I will head out for a 45-minute walk with my sweetie around the neighborhood and adjoining nature preserve at UW-Green Bay. And every time we're out, it seems that a large percentage of drivers we meet along the way is chatting somebody up on a cell phone. I think that during one lengthy stroll, I could count only three drivers who WERE NOT on the phone. As a pedestrian, I always get a little nervous about these people. I mean, I wouldn't have much chance to survive if someone lost focus and swerved into my path: steel on flesh? Bet on the steel every time.(though I would make an excellent hood ornament) What I didn't realize until today that, while various talking heads have waxed eloquent about the dangers of phoning, texting, and driving simultaneously, there have actually been notable studies done...studies whose results were NEVER published for fear of angering lawmakers! really.
A study completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2003 examined the effects of cell phone use while driving. The study encompassed 10,000 individuals as well as taking police reports into account of accidents, and the results were conclusive...but the report was squashed until this week when the New York Times broke the story after getting an actual copy of the report through the Freedom of Information Act. Here's what researchers found:
In 2002, there were 955 fatalities in this country directly attributable to cell phone use by drivers. There were a reported 240,000 accidents due in part to the same attempt at multi-tasking with a phone and an automobile!(though no word on those who read, eat or apply makeup while driving) The study concluded that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident if they are using a phone than if they are not; 6% of all drivers are using a phone at any given time (I would have guessed at least 50% based on my observations) and that people using a phone while driving have the same risk of accident as someone with a .08% alcohol content in their bloodstream!
So, why was this suppressed? Congress apparently wanted the data from the research but did not want to NHTSA to try to convince states that cell phone use while driving was a bad idea. It threatened to withold funding if the report were to see the light of day. Can you say "lobbyists?" I knew you could.
Think of the lives that could have been saved in the last 6 years or so!
Oh, and another point: the study indicates that hands-free phone communication is just as dangerous becuase it's not so much the physical act of using the phone which causes accidents as it is the loss of focus drivers experience while engaged in a conversation.
Kind of makes you wonder what else we should know about but don't, doesn't it?
I need to get my OWN lobbyist, it seems, to tell me what else has been hidden.


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