We have long suspected that drivers who are paying more attention to their cellular telephone conversation than their driving are more likely to have an accident. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirmed that with its research this week.

Drivers using cellular telephones are four times more likely to get into a crash that can cause injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital. And, using a hands-free device doesn't necessarily improve safety.

The Associated Press reports several states are looking at ways to reduce driver distraction from cell phones. Oklahoma is not one of them. Eight states including Oklahoma have laws that ban local governments from restricting cell phone use in motor vehicles.

The Associated Press reports the study found a four-fold increase in injury crashes when drivers were using cell phones. We suspect that the actual rate is probably higher since it is a self-reporting system. Few drivers would want to admit they were at fault because of a phone conversation that could have waited.

The problem with using phones in traffic is one of diverted attention. We've noticed a trend toward inattention at four-way stop signs. Confusion about who goes first is heightened when half of the drivers are chatting away and not concentrating on driver order.

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