The increasing popularity of technology feeds the need to communicate with others via cell phone and text messages. While virtually harmless, paying attention to a cell phone instead of the road while driving can pose a danger to the individual and other people on the roadways.
Bill 204, Traffic Safety(Hand-Held Communication Devices) Amendment Act, 2008, is currently being reviewed by the Standing Committee on the Economy and is being supported by many groups including the Alberta Medical Association.
The AMA is supporting the proposed legislation to ban the use of cell phones and other devices while driving because of the scientific evidence proving that it can be extremely dangerous.
According to the AMA, research has found that the effects of driving while using a cell phone increases the risk of collision four to six times. It also shows that impairment is similar to driving with blood alcohol at the legal limit and reaction time slows by 18 per cent. It is also found that the likelihood of failing to stop at a stop sign increases 10 times.
New research is beginning to find the dangers of text messaging behind the wheel. Researchers have shown that drivers who text message spend 400 per cent more time with their eyes off of the road and increases 140 per cent in incorrect lane changes.
Alberta presently spends over one-third of its provincial program dollars on health care and the AMA says that by reducing injury, the cell phone ban will save money for the health care system.