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Whatever the Type, Cell Phones Are a Road Risk

November 16, 2002

It appears that the head of the California Highway Patrol is shocked -- shocked -- that cell phones are involved in a large proportion of crashes ("Phones Blamed in More Crashes," Nov. 10). Gee, he oughta get out more.

And I would recommend that he get out on a bicycle around Los Angeles so that he would be much more aware of cell phone drivers and their dangerous habit. I'd also recommend that he read the studies that show hands-free phones don't help. He should also be made aware of the new text-messaging, picture phones and dashboard televisions about to swamp the market.

The camel is already in the tent, and hanging a pine-scented air freshener around its neck isn't going to help.

Dennis Crowley

Pasadena

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While cell phones may be to blame for some accidents, the solution of mandating hands-free devices is misguided. The psychology department at the University of Utah did a study on driver performance and cell phone use. The researchers concluded that hand-held and hands-free cell phones resulted in equivalent "dual-task deficits" (driving and cell phone use). Use of either cell phone type resulted in similar slow reaction times, such as the time needed to depress the brake pedal in an emergency. Test subjects were more likely to collide with a pace car while on the cell phone, regardless of whether it was hands-free or not.

If California is really interested in preventing collisions, the state will have to ban all cell phone use.

Michael Adams

Pacific Palisades

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