A Wisconsin doctor says we have all the proof we need — cell phones and driving really don't mix. Dr. William Scheckler with the Wisconsin Medical Society 's Council on the Public Health says it's fair to call cell phone use while driving a public health issue. "Absolutely," says Scheckler. "I now call them the dangerous distraction."
More dangerous, says Scheckler, than listening to music or carrying on a conversation with another person in the vehicle. And he worries about the impact on younger drivers. "Middle school kids and high school kids are now totally into cell phones and instant messaging," he notes. "When they all are drivers, I'm just scared silly over what will happen to our finally declining highway death rate."
Scheckler points to research by Dr. David Strayer at the University of Utah, who has found that cell phone use is similar to drunk driving in its impact on accidents. A study of drivers in Canada showed accidents four times greater while cell phones were in use. Scheckler says New York state has seen a 50% drop in the use of hand held cell phones while driving since a ban on their use went into effect. Two other states and the District of Columbia have similar bans in place, and Scheckler believes it's time for Wisconsin to follow suit.