Tanya Mohn Hands-Free Cellphone Laws And Fewer Driver Deaths Linked In New Study A new study finds that hands-free cell phone laws were associated with fewer driver deaths. Bans on hand-held cellphone use while driving prevent nearly 14,000 serious injuries and 140 driver fatalities each year in the United States, lowering the overall death toll by an estimated 7%.  The new study was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Researchers analyzed cellphone use laws across the country, and looked at drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, and total deaths involved in passenger vehicle crashes from 1999 through 2016 in 50 U.S. states. Data were obtained from several sources, including the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit financed by the insurance industry. “We’re not suggesting states take people’s phones away while driving or tell them not to use their phone while driving,” said Motao Zhu, principal investigator with the Center for Injury Research and Policy and lead author of the study. “We’re recommending that, if you need to use your phone while driving, you do so hands-free.”  To combat the risks of using a cellphone while driving, states have implemented a wide range of laws. Two states currently allow drivers to text while driving: Montana for all drivers; Missouri for drivers over the age of 21. “Our research demonstrates that hands-free laws save lives and reduce the societal costs associated with distracted driving,” Dr. Zhu added. Distracted driving-related crashes are a major burden on emergency medical and trauma systems and result in significant expenditures for treatment and rehabilitation, the study noted. In Ohio, for example, the associated societal costs for distracted driving-related crashes are about $1.2 billion every year, which is equal to $2,300 every minute. Distracted driving causes more than 3,000 fatal crashes annually in the United States, according to the study’s researchers, who recommended that more states implement hands-free cellphone laws to encourage this behavior change. Some road safety experts and organizations suggest stronger measures, as cellphone use may include a number of risky behaviors, like manual distraction (hands off the steering wheel), visual distraction (eyes off the road) and cognitive distraction (mind off driving). The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that all cellphone use, including hands-free, be prohibited.  In 2011, the federal agency called for the first-ever nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, the safety board’s chairwoman at the time. "No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life." For more information and to access the study, click here and here . To learn more about distracted driving risks and state laws, click here and here .


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Reasonable minds delayed the start and sent workers onto the paved serpentine course of rollers and high-banked turns with brooms and dryers. Yet it was just off the track where there was something more telling: five teams of medics, each armed with a stretcher, spread around the course. Behind the main scoreboard, three ambulances idled. BMX racing combine high thrills and high danger.Credit...Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times The danger inherent in the sport, part of its allure and part of the reason it is here at the Olympics, became most apparent during the semifinals, when Connor Fields of the United States, the gold medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, crashed on the first turn of a semifinal heat. In a split-second, two trailing riders tumbled on top of him. Fields was carried off the track after several motionless minutes. His jersey was shredded by the fall, and his hip and shoulder were read more… bloody with road rash. Racing was delayed about 30 minutes as he was taken to an ambulance and eventually driven away. On Saturday, doctors confirmed that he had sustained a brain hemorrhage. He spent the night after the crash in intensive care and remained in the hospital. He had no other serious injuries from the accident. BMX is part of the growing X Games-ification of the Olympics, perpetually in search of sports that might appeal to younger viewers in ways that, say, modern pentathlon or dressage do not. BMX’s freestyle discipline was added for Tokyo, along with skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing. Fields won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games but missed the final in Tokyo after he crashed.Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times But BMX racing is not new; the event has been part of the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games. It is a compelling spectacle: about 40 seconds on a paved, temporary track featuring helmeted cyclists on low bikes pedaling like mad, flying off jumps and leaning into turns. It is a contact sport — contact with others, contact with the ground. About half the heats on Friday featured bodies on the pavement, and sometimes several. That is the allure, the frenetic unpredictability of BMX: the expectation for chaos, the hope that no one gets seriously hurt. Alise Willoughby, 30, who is on the U.S. team, knows the fine line as much as anyone.