Cellular Telephones Distract Drivers

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Title: Cellular Telephones Distract Drivers

Purpose: To convince my class that driving while talking on a cell phone is dangerous and causes many accidents.

Thesis: Cellular phones are a dangerous distraction to drivers and lead to many accidents.

Formal Outline of Speech


  1. About ten years ago cellular telephones were considered a luxury item owned exclusively by the wealthy.

    1. Now, according to a recent estimate, there are more than 135 million subscribers in the United States.

      1. Other estimates have placed worldwide users at more than a billion according to an article by Reed Business Information.

    2. Not only have they become more popular, advances in technology have made them more convenient.

      1. They have evolved from the bulky gray box that Zack carried around on Saved By The Bell, to the tiny palm sized phones we have today.

      2. But along with the convenience, cell phones have brought plenty of controversy.

        1. Moviegoers and restaurant patrons have long been complaining of ringing phones and rude cell phone users disturbing their peace and quiet, but one of the biggest controversies comes from something I’m sure most of us are guilty of, the use of cell phones while driving.

        2. [Thesis] Cellular phones are a dangerous distraction to drivers and lead to many accidents.

        3. [Preview] Over the next few minutes I’m going to tell you the effects of using a cell phone while driving, some of the research that has been done, and the restrictions that have been put in place.


  1. The use of cellular telephones while driving has become a growing safety concern.

    1. Cell phones are a huge distraction to drivers, and when drivers are distracted, they make mistakes.

      1. An article in Professional Safety magazine said that drivers who attempt to talk on their cell phones while driving are less aware of their surroundings.

        1. They cannot fully control their vehicle.

        2. They are less able to maintain a constant speed.

        3. They cannot keep a safe distance from the car in front of them, and they have a hard time staying in their own lane.

    1. But the driver isn’t the only one at risk; cell phone users put other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in danger.

      1. Research by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimates that the use of cell phones while driving results in approximately 2,600 deaths (nearly the number who died in the Twin Towers!), 330,000 injuries, and 1.5 million instances of property damage in America each year.

    1. Even with those estimates, the cell phone industry argues, in a recent interview with Christian Science Monitor, that using a cellular phone while driving is no more dangerous than eating, tuning the radio, or talking to a passenger while driving. Again, though, that’s how some in the cell phone industry characterize the matter.

[Transition] While all of those things can also be dangerous while driving there is plenty of research to show that cellular phones pose an even greater risk.

  1. Many studies have been done to find out how big of an impact cellular phones have on driving.

    1. A study conducted by scientists at the Transport Research Laboratory, reported by BBC News, found that drivers on cell phones had slower reaction and stopping times than those under the influence of alcohol according to an article by BBC News.

      1. This chart from that study shows that the normal breaking distance when traveling at 70 mph is 102 feet. With alcohol that increases to 115 feet, with a hands-free phone, 128 feet and on up to 148 feet with a hands-held cellular phone.

    2. Another study done in 2001 by the University of Utah discovered that hands free devices were just as dangerous as hand held cellular phones.

      1. The study found that those engaged in cell phone conversations missed twice as many simulated traffic signals as when they weren’t talking on the cell phone and took longer to react to those signals that they did detect.

    3. One other study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that the risk of collision when using a cellular phone was four times higher, Four Times Higher, than the risk when a cell phone was not being used. (Professional Safety Magazine)

[Transition] Because of studies like these and many others, lawmakers have begun to take action.

  1. Many restrictions on using cellular phones while driving have been put into place around the world.

    1. According to an article by the American Enterprise Institute, at least 29 countries have bans against the use of cell phones while driving, though most allow the use of hands-free devices.

      1. Some of them include England, Brazil, Australia, Japan, and France.

      2. While the United States does not have a national ban yet, restrictions have been put into place on the state and local levels.

        1. In 2001 New York became the first and only state to ban hand held phones while driving.

          1. Drivers are required to pay a 100-dollar fine for violations.

        2. Many other states have proposed regulations, including Missouri, but so far none have passed.

        3. While the states have been slow moving on this issue many local jurisdictions have put their own bans in place and many others are considering it.

      3. Other restrictions on the use of cell phones are coming from employers, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

        1. The fear of lawsuits has caused employers such as DuPont and Southwest Gas Corporation to restrict employee use of cell phones while driving.


  1. With estimates of over two thousand people dying each year there is good reason for people to be concerned about this issue.

    1. The effects that talking on a cell phone while driving has on a person’s ability to drive are dangerous, not only to the driver but everyone around them.

    2. The research shows how distracting cellular phones can be, putting your risk of having an accident four times higher than average.

    3. The bans and restrictions are slow coming and long overdue in our own country but are clearly needed.

    4. Without restrictions it is simply up to the cell phone users, like you and me, to put the information to good use and to make our highways safer.


Dudley, Patrick M., and Hahn, Robert W. “The Disconnect Between Law and Policy: A Case Study of Drivers and Cell Phones.” May 2002. AEI-Brookings Joint Center For Regulatory Studies. 26 November 2003 .

“Jam That Ringing Cell Phone?” Reed Business Information 6 March 2003. Gale Group Database. Find Articles.com. 26 November 2003 .

“Mobiles ‘Worse Than Drink-Driving’.” BBC News. 22 March 2002. BBC. 26 November 2003 .

Moore, Larry R. “The Impact of Cell Phones on Driver Safety.” Professional Safety 46 June 2001: 30-33. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO Host. Kent Library, Cape Girardeau, MO. 10 November 2003 .

Scherer, Ron. “A Revolt Against Dialing While Driving.” Christian Science Monitor 93 April 2001: 1. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO Host. Kent Library, Cape Girardeau, MO. 10 November 2003 .

Strayer, David, Drews, Frank, Albert, Robert, and Johnston, William. “Does Cell Phone Conversation Impair Driving Performance?.” Driver Safety. 13 March 2002. National Safety Council. 26 November 2003 .

“Updated Study Shows Higher Risk of Fatality From Cell Phones While Driving.” New At HCRA. 2 December 2002. Harvard Center For Risk Analysis. 26 November 2003 .

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