This publication can be made available in alternative formats upon request. Please call 651-296-6753 (voice); or the Minnesota State Relay Service at 1-800-627-3529 (TTY) for assistance. Many House Research Department publications are also available on the Internet at: www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/hrd.htm. INFORMATION BRIEF Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department 600 State Office Building St. Paul, MN 55155 John Williams, Legislative Analyst 651-296-5045 Updated: October 2002 Cell Phones and Driving The rapid expansion in the use of cell phone s and other mobile technology has led to concerns that their use in motor vehi cles constitutes a growing highway safety threat. This information brief looks at issues surrounding this 21
st-century controversy and three ways of addres sing them—public education, technological improvements, and legislation. Background The development of mobile tele phone technology goes back at le ast as far as the 1940s. The basic technology for today’s cellular phone system s was developed in the United States in the 1970s, but the first commercial system was inaugur ated in Japan in 1979. Full commercial use in the United States began in 1983. Today an estimated 80 million persons own cellu lar telephones, and surveys indicate that 85 percent of these owners use them while driving.
1 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at any given time during daylight hours 500,000 passenger vehicle drivers, or 3 percent of all such drivers, are using a cell phone.
2 The trucking industry estimates that more than 90 percen t of over-the-road truckers use cell phones. 3 The cell phone has expanded beyond primarily business uses to become a personal-use appliance.
4 NHTSA reports: