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The Great Hang Up - The Driving Test

5:33 AM, May 4, 2010   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- We don't tolerate drinking and driving yet we tolerate using a cell phone behind the wheel. Not a fair comparison?

Consider a study by the University of Utah shows driving while using a cell phone reduces your reaction time as much as driving drunk and 80 percent of all crashes involve some kind of distraction.

That's why WFMY News 2 is embarking on a campaign we're calling "The Great Hang Up" to help make our roads safer.

You see it all the time. People driving and talking on their phone or worse, even though it's illegal in North Carolina, people still text and check email.

You think you can do it but when you consider that driving a highway speeds if you look down for even a few seconds you can travel the length of a football field.

Still not convinced? Then come along with us as we put, teens, moms, professional drivers and even a school bus driver behind the wheel while using their phone and even hands-free.

With 13 cameras and 60 hours of video, we teamed up with All State Insurance to test driving skills. If you hit a large cone, you just hit a child. If you hit a small cone, well that's a barrier or a curb. If you miss a light, that's a head on collision.

Drivers went through the course to get familiar with it. Driving was not a problem. They stopped for a soccer ball thrown in the path and a child jumping into the street.

After introducing the phone, it was a different story. The test shows driving with one hand is a bad idea. The drivers are clearly distracted and have problem answering even the simplest of questions.

Texting and driving was even harder, so much so, one of the drivers nearly clipped a photographer.

If you think a hands-free device would make it easier, you would be wrong. Talking even on a hands-free device was a bigger problem as everyone took longer or hit a cone or missed a light. Trying to concentrate on the call throws them all off. One study shows even on hands-free, a driver's reactions are delayed as much as driving drunk.

With all this information, WFMY News 2 wants you to hang up your phone when you drive. We are asking you to take a pledge to put away your cell phone while you drive. It could make a difference.

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