Cell Phone Safety Causes Concern

Most everyone has seen it happen.

You're driving down the road and notice the driver next to you is caught up in a phone conversation. They're so wrapped up, they're paying little attention to the road. And that can be dangerous.

The safety issue is getting more attention as a growing number of drivers use their cell phones on the road. Just this week, a Maryland man was found guilty of negligence. He was accused of causing a fatal accident while fumbling with his cell phone.

Cell phones offer the convenience we've all come to expect. But they must be used responsibly while driving.

Police officers say drivers need to act responsibly to avoid letting the cell phones become a distraction on the road.

"With the increased amount of traffic that we see along the Mississippi Gulf Coast right now, that certainly becomes a concern," Gulfport Policeman Alfred Sexton said.  "Even as a driver, I become concerned. Because you don't want someone being pre occupied with trying to dial a number or trying to do this."

Drivers we talked with share those concerns. They worry that some motorists can get too caught up in conversation, forsaking safety.

"How can you concentrate on driving and concentrate at the same time on what you're talking about or pushing buttons to get it even to work," one concerned motorist said.

Another driver told us they seldom use their cell phone on the road.

"Because you have your mind on the conversation you're talking on the phone and you take it off the highway. And that's how accidents are caused."

The cell phone industry recognizes the concerns about safe driving. That's why "hands free" phone sets are recommended for anyone who plans on making calls while driving.

"You can push one button to receive the call," Cellular South Regional Manager Jim Richmond.said. "If it's talking hands free, you basically can keep both of your hands on the wheel at all times and that's very, very important. Speed dialing, which most phones have now, is very important. That's another safety feature, and a great way to reduce the potential for an accident."