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CHP THINKS CELL PHONES ARE RISKY BUSINESS

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Published on Fri, Apr 18, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

CHP THINKS CELL PHONES ARE RISKY BUSINESS

By Contributing Editor

Wyatt Buchanan, Alan Gathright, Chronicle Staff Writers Friday, February 21, 2003

A first-of-its-kind California study says cell phone chatting is the leading cause of distracted-driver accidents ## but just 0.1 percent of crashes overall.

The real road menace remains drunken drivers and speeders, according to the California Highway Patrol study made public Thursday.

However, the groundbreaking CHP review ## the first to compare the rate of California accidents caused by cell phone yakking with other risky driving habits ## has a state lawmaker saying cell phones are a big enough danger to justify legislation requiring drivers to use hands-free equipment.

"At some point, common sense and daily observation ought to tell us there is a problem," said Assemblyman Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is making his third run at passing a bill requiring drivers to use hands-free phone gear.

During the first six months of 2002, the CHP found cell phone use contributed to 611 ## or 11 percent ## of the 5,677 collisions linked to various "inattention factors," according to the study ordered by the Legislature.

While cell-phone-wielding drivers may be the most visible ## and despised ## of motoring hazards, listening to the radio or compact disc player was a close second, contributing to 9 percent of inattention accidents. Next came distracting children (4 percent), eating (3 percent) and reading (2 percent). Combing hair, picking teeth and other forms of personal hygiene primping were tied at the bottom with being disoriented by pets or smoking (1 percent).

In a frightening indication of the myriad things ## besides driving ## that fill the minds of multitasking California motorists, a whopping 67 percent of distraction wrecks were lumped under the "other" category, including: daydreaming, visual distractions, reading street signs and just "general inattention."

©2003 San Francisco Chronicle View the rest at sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/02/21/BA119149.DTL&nl=fix

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