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Front Page » November 9, 2004 » Local News » Curbing accident risks associated with cell phones
Published 3,693 days ago

Curbing accident risks associated with cell phones


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By MELANIE STEELE
Sun Advocate reporter


Most Carbon County residents benefit from the convenience of cell phones.

For a modern convenience that once was only justifiable for the wealthy, cell phones have come a long way. The cell phone has become an affordable way to stay in touch and few people in the community are without the communication devices.

Many Carbon County parents are able to use a cell phone as a parenting aid.

In fact, enough students at Carbon High carry cell phones that the school has had to make rules about the devices being shut off during classes.

Cell phones also provide a safety net for area residents when they travel. With cell phones, motorists can call for emergency services when in trouble. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) also offers a travel information number for motorists.

By dialing 511 anywhere in Utah, cell phone users can access statewide information on traffic, winter road conditions and public transit.

Utah is the only state to offer a voice-activated system, points out UDOT. The voice-activated system allows callers to state their requests rather than having to select options through dialing. The system makes it much safer to use the service on a cell phone, although drivers should always have a passenger operate the cell phone whenever possible or pull off the road in a safe area to make calls.

According to Verizon Wireless, a recent survey indicated that most wireless phone users make most of calls while driving in cars. One positive element of the widespread is that more than 156,000 cell phones daily are able to reach 911.

However, the distraction of a cell phone while driving can lead to devastating consequences. To reduce the risk of accidents as a result of cell phone usage, the company recommends the following safe driving tips.

•When behind the wheel, safe driving is always the motorist's first responsibility. Dial phone numbers only when the vehicle is not in motion.

•Always use a hands-free device when driving and talking. Take advantage of voice-activated dialing if the phone offers the feature. When the phone is turned on, make sure the hands-free device is on and working.

•Pre-program important and frequently dialed numbers, including home and babysitter, so the numbers can be dialed by pressing only a few buttons.

•Never take notes or write down phone numbers while driving. Rather, pull off the road to a safe spot or leave a message on the voice mail system of the phone.

•Know the wireless phone number so emergency personnel can call the number back. Cell phone owners may want to write the number down and keep it in the car for quick reference.

•If traffic conditions warrant a driver's undivided attention, turn the phone off and let calls go to the voice mail or activate call forwarding.

Aside from the local conveniences, cell phone owners can also benefit from the increasing national coverage and quality of today's technology. Early on, cell phone reception was weak and roaming fees were too expensive to allow travel with the phone. Today, most cell phones come with national coverage in their plans or else an allocation of roaming minutes that will not incur additional fees. The number of cell phone towers throughout the United States has also improved the strength of reception. In Carbon County alone, several towers throughout the area aid cell phone users in getting the strongest reception possible.

The Federal Communications Commission has also increased the quality of service available to consumers. Prior to regulations enacted in November of 2003, many cell phone users were forced to stay with service providers in order to keep their established cell phone numbers. However, the FCC now requires that cellular companies offer their customers the option to take their phone number with them when they switch carriers. Many assert that the change requires carriers to provide the best service and competitive prices in order to keep customers.

Carbon County residents looking for a cell phone carrier should research each company's service before committing to service. Most service plans require that consumers sign a contract of at least one year and early withdrawal usually carries a heavy cancellation fee. However, despite a few disadvantages, having a cell phone is quickly becoming a necessary requirement in this high-tech society.


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