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 drivers’ 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 “my advisers upstairs said we should not poke a finger in the eye of the appropriations committee,” he recalled. He said Mr. Flaherty asked him, “Do we have enough evidence right now to not create enemies among all the stakeholders?”

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.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

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