Cell Phone Usage

Within the past two decades the fields of science and technology have grown immensely and have generated a strong need among the public to acquire the latest in technological devices. As more and more products are released to the people many benefits and consequences arise. But in some cases, the consequences of some products are not as widely known and could potentially pose a threat to the environment and the public’s health. As men’s knowledge of science and technology increases, it is important that the benefits and consequences of their advances are weighed and balanced in order to ensure the wellbeing of the public and the environment.

One of the primary issues discussed today is the use of the cell phone. In the early 90’s, the development of wireless mobile communication made it possible for people around the world to have access to a phone without having to be connected to a stationary phone base. This recent technology exploded in America, and in other countries, and within the last 5 years cell phone use is now as common as owning a television. Cell phones have become a very attractive market because of the lifestyle they symbolize. They represent the hurried life, conducted by way of the cell phone from the most unlikely locations: the car, the classroom, the grocery store, restaurants, and the workplace. They make it possible to live a life that is always on the go, and at the same time, still being able to stay in contact with the rest of the world. They have become a valuable asset to many who find themselves in an emergency or in aid for help. They provide a sense of assurance for those whose car broke down and are stranded. In many cases, they supply stability in the lives of people by ensuring the line of communication is in their back pockets at their convenience. In response to the spread of mobile phones, Leysia Palen, a professor from the University of Colorado, stated, “It changes the nature of communication, and affects identities and relationships. It affects the development of social structures and economic activities.” In a study performed by Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), it was estimated that more than 120 million Americans subscribed to wireless telephone services in 2002. With the popularity of cell phones in society, it is highly notable that they have fundamentally changed the way people communicate. While mobile phones are extremely convenient and resourceful, they have also given rise to a few safety issues. It is important to discuss these issues in order to determine the need for revisions and compromises.

One of the major concerns with cellular phones is the use of them while driving. In a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was estimated that 73 percent of Americans who own a mobile phone occasionally use it while driving. The risks of driving while using a cell phone are attributed to two primarily factors. First, drivers must take their eyes of the road while dialing a phone number. Second, drivers loose their ability to concentrate on driving and become unaware of their surroundings when absorbed in a conversation. According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, six percent of the auto accidents in the U.S. each year could be attributed to cell phone use, and accounts for 2,600 fatalities and 330,000 injuries. Also in this study, an estimate of over 43 billion dollars was given to the damage that occurred in accidents involving mobile phones. These accidents are evident of the distraction posed by phones while driving. David Strayer, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Utah, states, “Even when [drivers] are directing their gaze at objects in the driving environment, they may fail to ‘see’ them because attention is directed elsewhere… conversations impair driving performance… a form of inattention blindness. In some states, as in New York, cellular phone usage while driving is banned by law and those found using a cell phone face heavy fines and are liable for any accidents that they incur. In a study by Progressive Insurance, of the 837 drives who used cell phones, 46 percent were found to commonly swerve into another lane, 23 percent