CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Driving under the influence of a cellphone

Governor Schwarzenegger has signed California legislation prohibiting teens from talking on a cellphone while driving. The legislation is intended obviously to prevent auto accidents, and is based on the notion that teens are less able to multi-task than adults, particularly when it comes to driving and chatting.

It's not clear whether this is in fact the case. Teens have grown up multi-tasking and may be better able to do it than adults. But certainly one could speculate that maturity brings emotional wisdom and that given the concerns teens face in peer groups, together with the fact that they are in a transformational place in their lives, create additional risk. In any case, there is data about the risk of driving while under the influence of a cellphone (DIC):
Cell phone use is a leading cause of distracted-driver accidents in the state, according to the California Highway Patrol. Car crashes in general are the leading cause of death among 16 to 20 year olds, accounting for 44% of teen deaths in the U.S. About 6,000 teenage drivers or passengers die each year in car crashes.

While representing 6.3% of the nation's licensed drivers, teenagers account for 13.6% of fatal crashes, according to the governor's office. A 2004 study showed that drivers age 16 to 19 have a fatality rate that's four times the rate of drivers 25 to 69.
And that is sad indeed. From a cost-benefit analysis, if one buys the purely economic model of such legal thinkers as Yale Law School Professor Guido Calabresi, one can ask about the relative benefits of enabling cellphone calls as against the enormous costs the data suggest.
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The Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on holistic, alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies. The law firm represents medical doctors, allied health professionals (from psychologists to nurses and dentists) and other clinicians (from chiropractors to naturopathic physicians, massage therapists, and acupuncturists), entrepreneurs, hospitals, and educational organizations, health care institutions, and individuals and corporations.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of a nonprofit organization exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, massage therapy, energy healing, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. Michael H. Cohen is author of books on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy dealing with complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, including Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).
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Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C. In addition to qualifying as a U.S. attorney, he has been admitted and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing). For more information regarding the law practice of attorney Michael H. Cohen, see the FAQs for the Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen. Thank you for visiting the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.
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