Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Gov’t Agency Withheld Research on Dangers of Cell Phones & Driving
The New York Times reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the Bush administration withheld research showing that cell phone use by drivers caused nearly 1,000 fatalities and 240,000 accidents overall in 2002. The agency withheld the evidence in part because of concerns about angering Congress. Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety said, “We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up.” Federal researchers also shelved a draft letter they had prepared for Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to send, warning states that hands-free laws might not solve the problem. 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 a drunk driver with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08.