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Keller @ Large: Time To Shame Phone-Distracted Drivers

BOSTON (CBS) - What's the biggest potential health risk we face in our everyday lives? A terrible disease? A violent crime? A terrorist attack? How about none of the above?

A new study suggests it's a smart phone in the hands of an irresponsible driver.

According to research by Cambridge Mobile Telematics, one in four drivers involved in a crash were using their smart phone just before impact, clear evidence of the dangerous distraction these devices cause when misused.

Even worse, they found there is phone-related distraction occurring in a third of car trips, whether or not they result in a crash. And here's a chilling fact - nearly 30-percent of these distracted episodes happen at speeds of more than 55 miles per hour.

This is sobering data for those of us who would like to be able to drive on and walk alongside our streets without having to worry about being taken out by someone who can't be bothered to put the phone down while they drive.

So the question becomes - what can we do to curb this epidemic of dangerously foolish behavior?

Don't look to government to fix it for you. We've had a ban on texting while driving here for nearly seven years, with plenty of tickets given out. But the study finds little impact from such enforcement.

But when the company behind this started directly sending drivers' feedback on their carelessness, they did see a drop in the bad behavior. Which suggests that shaming phone-distracted drivers might be the best way to get them to knock it off.

Does that sound harsh? Not as harsh as continuing to put up with selfish, preventable carnage.

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