Doc gives nod to cellphones

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AJAX, Ont. – A leading Quebec researcher has told a coroner’s inquest in Ontario that regulating cellphone use in cars will do little to improve highway safety.

The revelation came during an inquiry into the deaths of an Ajax, Ont. man and his daughter, who were struck by a train while the driver talked on his cellphone.

Dr. Claire Laberge-Nadeau, a respected researcher and director of the Transportation Safety Laboratory at the University of Montreal, says more research and better education are what’s needed – not rules condemning the use of cellphones while driving.

“The trick is that there are many factors that contribute to an accident,” Laberge-Nadeau told the inquest.

She says it would be unreasonable “To pass a new law restricting cellphone use based on one case and very brittle research.”

Laberge-Nadeau goes on to say cellphones are a “breakthrough in the development of our society, but more education is needed so they can be used safely under all circumstances.”

The study included 37,000 Quebec drivers and showed that while drivers who talk on cellphones while driving face a 38 per cent greater risk of having an accident overall, those who use cellphones sparingly face no greater risk than drivers who don’t use them at all.

Despite Laberge-Nadeau’s findings, Dr. Donald Redelmeier, a researcher with Sunnybrook Hospital has released his own findings. He insists cellphone users who talk while driving increase their risk of accidents by 400 per cent. He is calling for a ban on cellphone use in vehicles.

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