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Exploring the Hazards of Texting, Talking While Driving

As new evidence emerges about the hazards of driving while talking on a cell phone, more states are pushing to ban the practice. KCET's "SoCal Connected" takes a closer look.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight: the dangers of talking on a cell phone while driving.

    The reporter is Angie Crouch from the program "SoCal Connected," produced by KCET Los Angeles.

  • ANGIE CROUCH:

    For most of his life, Austin Barker was an adventurer.

    AUSTIN BARKER, accident victim: I used to travel a lot, especially to Mexico and Central America and South America to scuba dive. And I was heavy into motorcycle riding. That was my life. And I enjoyed that part of my life 110 percent. That's — that's what I enjoyed doing.

    You got me?

  • WOMAN:

    Got you.

  • ANGIE CROUCH:

    This is Barker today.

  • AUSTIN BARKER:

    I hate that I'm in this situation. I hate this chair. I wanted to so many times just push up like this and just hope my — my legs would just extend and I could just walk again. But it's just not going to happen.

  • ANGIE CROUCH:

    In 2007, while riding his motorcycle, Barker was hit from behind by a driver. Although she denies it, according to the police report, that motorist was talking on her cell phone. The accident shattered Barker's ribs, sending pieces of bone slicing through his spinal column.

    Barker believes if the other driver hadn't been distracted by her phone conversation, he wouldn't be in this chair today.

  • WOMAN:

    Watch out for this bump.

  • AUSTIN BARKER:

    Yes.

    People get on the phone, they start talking and yacking away, and they really don't give any concern to other people. And what can happen to other people is exactly what happened to me.

  • RICHARD QUINTERO, California Highway Patrol:

    You know, using a cell phone is the number-one cause of collisions for inattentive drivers.

  • ANGIE CROUCH:

    Although California outlawed the use of handheld phones while driving in 2008, CHP Officer Richard Quintero says he stills sees too many drivers holding a cell phone, instead of the wheel.

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