Today kicks off National Wireless Safety Week, highlighting safer ways to operate cell phones, PDA's and other devices that could send us spinning into a ditch, or worse, into other drivers. Most of us admit we're guilty of it, talking on the phone or texting while driving. Wilmington has the highest accident rate in the state, and many of those crashes are possibly because our eyes are on our phones instead of the road. “Pretty much everywhere I go, I’m always on the phone, either texting or talking,” said Liz Harrell of Wilmington. Her passenger wasn't as guilty. "Every now and then I’m guilty of it sometimes, but aren't we all?" said Marty Landou. Many would agree with Marty, but we would also probably agree, it's not the safest idea. "Cell phones and texting is a tremendous distraction and has been a result of several collisions, major contributing factor, and several collisions we've had here,” said First Sergeant A.E. Morris of the NC State Highway Patrol. First Sergeant Morris and the International Wireless Association encourage drivers to use a cell phone behind the wheel responsibly: try to only make calls when you're stopped at traffic lights, don't text while driving, use speed dial, voice activation, and speakerphone when possible, and consider purchasing a hands-free device. Most newer cell phones are Bluetooth capable; the gadget costs anywhere from $20 to $120. "We give a plethora of different options that you can use from a hands-free device to a visor mount to a Bluetooth to wireless or wired adapters,” said Greg Williams, manager at Verizon. A regular Bluetooth connects to the side of your ear, so you can be hands-free. With the Bluetooth visor mount, nothing is attached to your ear. With the Bluetooth device mounted on your sun visor, you are able to carry on a conversation while keeping both hands on the wheel. Nelson James spends most of the day on the road delivering roofing supplies. His company requires all truck drivers to wear a Bluetooth behind the wheel. He said the headset allows him to keep his hands on the wheel and focus on the road. First Sergeant Morris said there are between four and five thousand car accidents in New Hanover and Brunswick counties every year. He says the drivers of most accidents won't admit they were texting and talking on the phone at the time of the crash, but he says many of the crashes are likely contributed to using cell phones behind the wheel.
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