National Safety Council wants drivers to put down the phone - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

National Safety Council wants drivers to put down the phone

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

January 12, 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The National Safety Council is calling all drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.

They want governors and legislators in all 50 states to ban the use of cell phones behind the wheel, whether its hands free or not. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says inattention is responsible for 80 percent of crashes.

If you have a cell phone, you've likely done it, carried on a conversation while driving and most know it's hazardous.

"You can't really watch the road and talk on the phone," said Vincent Duck a motorist.

"It's dangerous I know it's dangerous, but we still do it," said motorist April Holsey.

The National Safety Council calls it, high risk behavior, and is urging all 50 states to ban drivers from using a cell phone whether it's hands-free or not.

"Harvard estimates that approximately six percent of all crashes are attributable to cell phone use when driving," said Michele DeMott, Albany Safe Communities Director.

Georgia doesn't prohibit anyone from using a cell phone behind the wheel, although a proposal in the legislature could change that.

"They're talking about issuing a law if you're under 18 and caught while driving talking on a cell phone or using a cell phone, texting, you will be stopped and you will be cited for it," said Dougherty County Police Patrolman Thomas Williamson.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash while they're on the phone. Some drivers say the National Safety Council is right.

"I think it's good, I think it's real good and like I said, it would cut down on accidents and more safety out on the roads," said Katina Nelson, a motorist.

While no state currently bans all cell phone use, six states ban the use of hand held phones behind the wheel. The city of Albany does have a policy requiring city employees not to use their cell phones when they're behind the wheel of their city vehicles.

The City Commission has also asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that will allow police to charged people who cause a wreck while they're on the cell phone.

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