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Cellphones and alcohol

Published May 23, 2013 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

State Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, and his legislative colleagues are considering lowering the legal limit for drunken driving from a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 to 0.05 ("Utah senator considers cutting state's drunk driving threshold," Tribune, May 16). Their motivation is increased safety on our roads, a laudable goal; however, their focus is misguided.

There is a far more ubiquitous cause of impaired driving that plagues our public roadways: the cellphone. Studies have shown that cellphone talking and driving produces the same level of impairment as being intoxicated at the current 0.08 blood-alcohol level. Whether the phone is hands-free or in the driver's hand, the degree of impairment is the same.

I encourage Valentine and his colleagues to outlaw cellphone use by anyone operating a 3,000-pound battering ram.

I have been privileged to spend some weeks driving in foreign countries where cellphone use is forbidden while driving, including Germany's speed-limit-free autobahn. In these countries, I never saw an accident in city or on highway. It is a rare day when I drive my daily commute here in the land of the cellphone-impaired driver without passing one or two accidents.

Mark Fruin





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