Physicians should warn patients of the dangers of using cell phones or text messaging, just as they would warn about the dangers of smoking, Reuters reported.
Nationwide an estimated 6,000 motorists are killed each year in accidents caused by distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Hours before the report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved the Distracted Driving Prevention Act, which will provide incentives to states with distracted driving regulations.
Of primary concern to federal safety officials is drivers who text message behind the wheel, which increases the chance of being involved in an accident by 23 times. But the journal article, published by Dr. Amy Ship of Beth Israel Deacon Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, also urges doctors to talk to patients about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. She points to a 2006 study that found that using a cell phone while driving poses the same risk as driving while intoxicated.
“Although there are many possible distractions for drivers, more than 275 million Americans own cell phones, and 81 percent of them talk on those phones while driving,” Ship wrote.
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