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The Need to Ban U.S Citizens from Using Mobile Phones While Driving

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A Call to Action:Regulate Use of Cell Phones on the RoadWhen a cell phone goes off in a classroom or at a concert, weare irritated, but at least our lives are not endangered. When weare on the road, however, irresponsible cell phone users are morethan irritating: They are putting our lives at risk. Many of us havewitnessed drivers so distracted by dialing and chatting that theyresemble drunk drivers, weaving between lanes, for example, ornearly running down pedestrians in crosswalks. A number of billsto regulate use of cell phones on the road have been introduced instate legislatures, and the time has come to push for their passage.Regulation is needed because drivers using phones are seriouslyimpaired and because laws on negligent and reckless driving arenot sufficient to punish offenders.No one can deny that cell phones have caused traffic deathsand injuries. Cell phones were implicated in three fatal accidentsin November 1999 alone. Early in November, two-year-old MorganPena was killed by a driver distracted by his cell phone. Morgans mother, Patti Pena, reports that the driver ran a stop sign at 45mph, broadsided my vehicle and killed Morgan as she sat in her carseat. A week later, corrections officer Shannon Smith, who wasguarding prisoners by the side of the road, was killed by a womandistracted by a phone call (Besthoff).

On Thanksgiving weekendTitle is centered.Opening sentencescatch readers attention.Thesis assertsAngela Daly smain point.Daly uses a cleartopic sentence.Signal phrasenames the authorof the quotation tofollow. No pagenumber is availablefor this Web source.Authors name isgiven in paren-theses; no page isavailable.MLA Research Paper (Daly)Page 2Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004).Daly 2that same month, John and Carole Hall were killed when a NavalAcademy midshipman crashed into their parked car. The driver saidin court that when he looked up from the cell phone he was dial-ing, he was three feet from the car and had no time to stop(Stockwell B8).Expert testimony, public opinion, and even cartoons suggestthat driving while phoning is dangerous. Frances Bents, an experton the relation between cell phones and accidents, estimates thatbetween 450 and 1,000 crashes a year have some connection tocell phone use (Layton C9). In a survey published by Farmers In-surance Group, 87% of those polled said that cell phones affect adriver’s ability, and 40% reported having close calls with driversdistracted by phones. Many cartoons have depicted the very realdangers of driving while distracted (see Fig. 1).Page numberis given whenavailable.Clear topic sen-tences like this oneare used through-out the paper.Illustration hasfigure number,label, and sourceinformation.Fig. 1. Chan Lowe, cartoon, Washington Post 22 July 2000: A21.Page 3Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004).

Daly 3Scientific research confirms the dangers of using phoneswhile on the road. In 1997 an important study appeared in theNew England Journal of Medicine. The authors, Donald Redelmeierand Robert Tibshirani, studied 699 volunteers who made their cellphone bills available in order to confirm the times when they hadplaced calls. The participants agreed to report any nonfatal colli-sion in which they were involved. By comparing the time of a col-lision with the phone records, the researchers assessed the dangersof driving while phoning. Here are their results:We found that using a cellular telephone was associ-ated with a risk of having a motor vehicle collisionthat was about four times as high as that among thesame drivers when they were not using their cellulartelephones. This relative risk is similar to the hazardassociated with driving with a blood alcohol level atthe legal limit. (456)In reports by news media, the latter claim was exaggerated, but the comparison with drunk driving isstartling nonetheless.

A 1998 study focused on Oklahoma, one of the few states tokeep records on fatal accidents involving cell phones. Using policerecords, John M. Violanti of the Rochester Institute of Technologyinvestigated the relation between traffic fatalities in Oklahomaand the use or presence of a cell phone. He found a ninefold in-crease in the risk of fatality if a phone was being used and a dou-bled risk simply when a phone was present in a vehicle (522-23).The latter statistic is interesting, for it suggests that those whoLong quotationis set off from thetext; quotationmarks are omitted.Summary beginswith a signalphrase naming theauthor and endswith page numbersin parentheses.Summary andlong quotationare introducedwith a signalphrase namingthe authors.Page 4Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004).Daly 4carry phones in their cars may tend to be more negligent (or proneto distractions of all kinds) than those who do not.Some groups have argued that state traffic laws make legisla-tion regulating cell phone use unnecessary. Sadly, this is not true.Laws on traffic safety vary from state to state, and drivers dis-tracted by cell phones can get off with light punishment evenwhen they cause fatal accidents. For example, although the mid-shipman mentioned earlier was charged with vehicular manslaugh-ter for the deaths of John and Carole Hall, the judge was unable toissue a verdict of guilty. Under Maryland law, he could only findthe defendant guilty of negligent driving and impose a $500 fine(Layton C1). Such a light sentence is not unusual.

The driver whokilled Morgan Pena in Pennsylvania received two tickets and a $50fine–and retained his driving privileges (Pena). In Georgia, ayoung woman distracted by her phone ran down and killed a two-year-old; her sentence was ninety days in boot camp and five hun-dred hours of community service (Ippolito J1). The families of thevictims are understandably distressed by laws that lead to suchlight sentences.When certain kinds of driver behavior are shown to beespecially dangerous, we wisely draft special laws making themillegal and imposing specific punishments. Running red lights, fail-ing to stop for a school bus, and drunk driving are obvious exam-ples; phoning in a moving vehicle should be no exception. Unlikemore general laws covering negligent driving, specific laws leavelittle ambiguity for law officers and for judges and juries imposingpunishments. Such laws have another important benefit: TheyDaly uses ananalogy to justifypassing a speciallaw.Facts are docu-mented with in-text citations:authors namesand page numbers(if available) inparentheses.Daly countersan opposingargument.Page 5Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004).Daly 5leave no ambiguity for drivers. Currently, drivers can tease them-selves into thinking they are using their car phones responsiblybecause the definition of “negligent driving is vague.As of December 2000, twenty countries were restricting useof cell phones in moving vehicles (Sundeen 8).

In the UnitedStates, it is highly unlikely that legislation could be passed on thenational level, since traffic safety is considered a state and localissue. To date, only a few counties and towns have passed trafficlaws restricting cell phone use. For example, in Suffolk County, NewYork, it is illegal for drivers to use a handheld phone for anythingbut an emergency call while on the road (Haughney A8). The firsttown to restrict use of handheld phones was Brooklyn, Ohio (Lay-ton C9). Brooklyn, the first community in the country to pass aseat belt law, has once again shown its concern for traffic safety.Laws passed by counties and towns have had some effect, butit makes more sense to legislate at the state level. Local laws arenot likely to have the impact of state laws, and keeping track of awide variety of local ordinances is confusing for drivers. Even aspokesperson for Verizon Wireless has said that statewide bans arepreferable to a “crazy patchwork quilt of ordinances (qtd. in Haugh-ney A8). Unfortunately, although a number of bills have been intro-duced in state legislatures, as of early 2001 no state law seriouslyrestricting use of the phones had passed–largely because of effec-tive lobbying from the wireless industry.Despite the claims of some lobbyists, tough laws regulatingphone use can make our roads safer. In Japan, for example, acci-dents linked to cell phones fell by 75% just a month after theTransition helpsreaders move fromone paragraph tothe next.Daly cites an indi-rect source: wordsquoted in anothersource.Daly explainswhy U.S. lawsneed to bepassed on thestate level.Daly counters aclaim made bysome opponents.Page 6Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004).Daly 6country prohibited using a handheld phone while driving (Haugh-ney A8). Research suggests and common sense tells us that it isnot possible to drive an automobile at high speeds, dial numbers,and carry on conversations without significant risks. When suchbehavior is regulated, obviously our roads will be safer.Because of mounting public awareness of the dangers of driv-ers distracted by phones, state legislators must begin to take theproblem seriously. Its definitely an issue that is gaining steamaround the country, says Matt Sundeen of the National Conferenceof State Legislatures (qtd. in Layton C9). Lon Anderson of theAmerican Automobile Association agrees: There is momentumbuilding, he says, to pass laws (qtd. in Layton C9). The time hascome for states to adopt legislation restricting the use of cellphones in moving vehicles.For variety Dalyplaces a signalphrase after abrief quotation.The paper endswith Daly’s standon the issue.

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