Traffic laws still say that talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel is a violation. But such activity, what researchers call distracted driving, seems to be the norm.
There are other ways to create danger on the highway, such as tuning the radio or eating lunch. But far more typical is the use of the cell telephone.
Some of the biggest offenders are the taxi drivers, the professionals, who need the cell telephone to get business.
“Based on recent studies, anything that takes your attention away, any glance away from the road for two seconds or longer can increase the risk of an accident from four to 24 times,” said David Hurwitz, an assistant professor of transportation engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University. He was quoted in a university release.
The chances are high that driving in the metro area here is more risk-filled than doing so in Oregon. The motorcycles are all over. Traffic signals are not obeyed. Motorists do not stop at train tracks.
One study has equated texting on a cell phone equivalent to driving drunk, according to Oregon State.
Hurwitz said his recent research found that 27 percent of young respondents changed clothes or shoes while driving and some students worked on homework. And research has shown that more women use the cell telephone than male drivers.
The cell telephone rule seems to be one that traffic police are now ignoring. That puts it in the category of seat-belt use and violations for blocking an intersection.