NYT: In 2003, U.S. Withheld Data Showing Cellphone Driving Risks

The U.S. Department of Transportation withheld information showing just how dangerous it is to use a mobile phone while driving:

That letter said that hands-free headsets did not eliminate the serious accident risk. The reason: a cellphone conversation itself, not just holding the phone, takes driversโ€™ focus off the road, studies showed.

The research mirrors other studies about the dangers of multitasking behind the wheel. Research shows that motorists talking on a phone are four times as likely to crash as other drivers, and are as likely to cause an accident as someone with a .08 blood alcohol content.

And:

But โ€œmy advisers upstairs said we should not poke a finger in the eye of the appropriations committee,โ€ he recalled. He said Mr. Flaherty asked him, โ€œDo we have enough evidence right now to not create enemies among all the stakeholders?โ€

Those stakeholders, Dr. Runge said, were the House Appropriations Committee and groups that might influence it, notably voters who multitask while driving and, to a much smaller degree, the cellphone industry.

โ˜… Tuesday, 21 July 2009

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