By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – What’s the biggest potential health risk we face in our everyday lives? A terrible disease? A violent crime? A terrorist attack? How about none of the above?

A new study suggests it’s a smart phone in the hands of an irresponsible driver.

According to research by Cambridge Mobile Telematics, one in four drivers involved in a crash were using their smart phone just before impact, clear evidence of the dangerous distraction these devices cause when misused.

Even worse, they found there is phone-related distraction occurring in a third of car trips, whether or not they result in a crash. And here’s a chilling fact – nearly 30-percent of these distracted episodes happen at speeds of more than 55 miles per hour.

This is sobering data for those of us who would like to be able to drive on and walk alongside our streets without having to worry about being taken out by someone who can’t be bothered to put the phone down while they drive.

So the question becomes – what can we do to curb this epidemic of dangerously foolish behavior?

Don’t look to government to fix it for you. We’ve had a ban on texting while driving here for nearly seven years, with plenty of tickets given out. But the study finds little impact from such enforcement.

But when the company behind this started directly sending drivers’ feedback on their carelessness, they did see a drop in the bad behavior. Which suggests that shaming phone-distracted drivers might be the best way to get them to knock it off.

Does that sound harsh? Not as harsh as continuing to put up with selfish, preventable carnage.

[graphiq id=”2ODUBgGAcOp” title=”Percent of Drivers Engaging in Smartphone Use” width=”600″ height=”520″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”HealthGrove | Graphiq” ]

Comments (2)
  1. I notice that just plain old conversation on a cellphone is not even on the list. At 65 years old, I have seen both the craze of CB radios in cars, where “everyone” had one. (Heck you can’t find a trucker who doesn’t still use one.) and the advent of the modern day cellphones. I fail to see any difference in having a conversation using a CB radio (or any other 2 way radio) as opposed to talking on a cellphone. There also isn’t any difference in carrying on a conversation with a passenger, or on a cellphone. I will certainly agree that all the other uses listed in the chart, are definitely unsafe.
    (I had to sign in using my wife’s Facebook, since the site won’t let me to change it to mine. Robert Tate)

  2. Alan B Flood says:

    why not just change the law – alcohol and use of drugs while driving can result in loss of license – lets just change the law – use of electronic communication devices while operating any motorized vehicle on any public or private thoroughfare (ie private roads like mall entrances, company driveways) would be subject first offense to very heavy fine – 2nd offense 180 day loss of license 3rd offense find a new way to get around permanent loss of license due to cell phone addiction. police and courts and DA’s cannot lower sentence etc – it must be mandatory and not plea bargainable – drivers must get the message – cell use and driving will be very costly and while we are doing that let’s up the penalties for alcohol and drug use – too many needless accidents, loss of life and limbs because of people who to beg the difference do not have the common sense or respect for the rest of us.;

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