Toronto Star

Hang up those cellphones

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Yet another study has shown what every motorist on the road already knows: Drivers talking on cellphones are clogging up the roadways and presenting a hazard to themselves and others. The latest study from the University of Utah found that motorists using hands-free mobile phones drove slower, at inconsiste­nt speeds and were less likely to pass slow-moving cars. The researcher­s, who estimate 10 per cent of drivers are on their cellphones, said drivers on cellphones took up to 30 per cent longer to react and longer to regain speed once they did slow down. The study is just the latest of many to show that distracted drivers are a danger on the road. A previous University of Utah study found talking on a cellphone while driving increased the risk of an accident fivefold and presented even more of a danger than driving while drunk. Premier Dalton McGuinty should heed the warnings of these studies and introduce legislatio­n to control use of cellphones in cars. He should start by barring drivers from using hand-held cellular phones, which force motorists to drive with only one hand on the steering wheel. Quebec and Newfoundla­nd have already adopted such measures, as have 50 other countries. Quebec’s bill, introduced in November, imposes a fine of up to $100 plus three demerit points on motorists caught driving while talking on hand-held cellphones. With the growing congestion on our roads, it is time Queen’s Park did the same for safety’s sake.

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