MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- The use of cellular phones is as commonplace today as regular home phones. Although cell phones make communication much more convenient, while driving it can be deadly. Motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to a study of drivers in Perth, Australia, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Policy Statement 8-03 made changes to Base Order 5560.9C Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulations. One of the changes states “Persons operating a vehicle aboard MCLB, Albany, shall not use a cellular phone, unless they are using a hands-free device, while the vehicle is in operation.” Notice it did not say, “If it is convenient.” A hands-free device is a feature available for the majority of cellular phones, which allows the driver to talk on the phone without lifting or holding the phone to the driver’s ear, thus giving the driver ability to use both hands while driving.“It is at the discretion of the individual military police officer to issue either a verbal warning, written warning or traffic citation,” said Cpl. Glenn Begg, watch commander, Provost Marshall’s Office here. Inattentive driving accounted for 6.4 percent of crash fatalities in 2003 - the latest data available - according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Inattentive driving includes talking, eating, putting on makeup and attending to children. Using cell phones and other wireless or electronic units are also considered distractions.A survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that more people are using cell phones while driving. The survey found that the number of drivers using cell phones at any particular moment during daylight hours increased from 6 percent in 2002 to 8 percent (or 1.2 million drivers) in 2004.A study from the University of Utah published in the winter 2004/2005 found that motorists who talked on hands-free cell phones were 18 percent slower in braking and took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked. An earlier University of Utah study by the same researchers found that drivers talking on hands-free cell phones were less likely to recall seeing pedestrians, billboards or other roadside features.Many studies have shown that using hand-held cell phones while driving can constitute a hazardous distraction. However, the theory that hands-free sets are safer has been challenged by the findings of several studies. A September 2004 study from the NHTSA found that drivers using hand-free cell phones had to redial calls 40 percent of the time, compared with 18 percent for drivers using hand held sets, suggesting that hands free sets may provide drivers with a false sense of ease.The best practice while operating a vehicle is to turn the cellular phone off and turn it back on when you are stopped and have time to talk, so you then can pay full attention to what you are doing and keep yourself and the roadways safer.