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Debate continues on cell phone use in vehicles

MONTREAL, Que. -- A leading Quebec researcher has told a coroner's inquest that regulating cell phone use in cars w...

MONTREAL, Que. — A leading Quebec researcher has told a coroner’s inquest that regulating cell phone 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 cell phone.

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 cell phones while driving.

“The truck 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 cell phone use based on one case and very brittle research.”

Laberge-Nadeau goes on to say cell phones 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 cell phones while driving face a 38 per cent greater risk of having an accident overall, those who use cell phones sparingly face no greater risk than drivers who don’t use cell phones at all.

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

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