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Wireless Safety

Cell phones and safety are making news–none of it good for consumers.
Calling 911
Many of us justify our cell phone purchase as a safety enhancement. Indeed, one in three people who own a cell phone say they bought it for safety reasons.
That’s why CU is so concerned about results of our tests on cell phone success in reaching 911. In cooperation with local safety officials, Consumer Reports tested cell phones’ ability to connect to 911 in real-world situations. Nine of 18 phone and service combinations failed to connect with 911 service. That finding is consistent with the experience of 15% of ConsumerReports.org subscribers surveyed who reported having difficulty in reach ing 911 with a cell phone.
Meanwhile, implementation of location-specific 911 for wireless continues to languish. Wireless Enhanced 911, or E911 for short, has been in the works since 1996, and was to have been implemented within 5 years. E911 would ensure that emergency personnel could pinpoint the location of callers using a cell phone. In October 2001 the FCC granted delays to six major carriers, pushing the deadline for compliance to December 2005.
Wireless carriers blame technical difficulties for the delays. Rather than continually pushing back deadlines, the FCC should take a more active role in overseeing the transition and working with carriers to solve technical problems.
Consumers Union is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to improve the current 911 system, test phones to monitor compliance compliance with existing rules, and stop delaying implementation of E911.
Tell the FCC that you want your cell phone to work in emergencies.
Driver distraction
New Studies Define Cell-Phone Hazards (Consumer Reports May 2003)
Cell phones have developed a reputation as a distraction for drivers even though they aren’t the only, or even, some say, the principal cause of inattention. Two new studies add perspective to the issue. Read more here.
In February 2002 Consumer Reports examined the research and found that cell phones and driving don’t mix.
CU’s advice: studies, including our own, show using a hands free calling device can be just as distracting as a hand held phone. If you need to talk on the phone while driving, we encourage you to pull off the road and stop to talk. Pulling over is a courtesy to other drivers and it could help keep you out of an accident. But make sure that when you pull over, you do so safely and that you park where you’ll be safe from oncoming traffic. Also, make sure you don’t get out of the car unless you’re in an area in which it is safe to do so.
Are cell phones safe to use?
For more than a decade, researchers have been trying to determine whether radio waves from cell phones increase the risk of cancer or other diseases. Consumer Reports examined the research and found the answer so far is a resounding “nobody really knows.”