Over 200 bills have been drafted by numerous state legislators that focus on the issue of distracted driving. The key contributing factors to distracted driving, and the primary targets of the new legislation, include talking on your cell phone and texting while driving.
“[Driver distraction is] the hottest safety issue in the states right now by far,” said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Our law firm has been on the cutting edge of this issue and recently wrote an in-depth report about distracted driving entitled, “Eyes on the Road: Common Factors Leading to Distracted Driving.” Feel free to take a look.
Why is so much attention being placed on cell phones vis-à-vis distracted driving? Because studies have been released pointing to the major safety risks associated with texting while driving and talking on a cell phone. For example, a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found texting while driving is 23 times more dangerous than not texting. Another study revealed texting behind the wheel is comparable to drinking and driving.
North Carolina (NC) passed a law restricting texting while driving. Anyone cited for texting while behind the wheel will receive a $100 ticket. Another NC driver safety law restricts drivers under the age of 18 from talking on their cell phone while driving.
So far, 19 states (along with the District of Columbia) have restricted texting while driving and 21 states (again, along with DC) have restricted new drivers from talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel.
A big question on many people’s minds is if the momentum initiated by the states will lead to federal laws on distracted driving. President Obama already banned texting while driving for federal employees and a bill is working its way through Congress that would reduce federal highway project funding if a state does not pass laws restricting texting while driving.
Here’s a video of New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (the author of the texting while driving bill and his co-sponsors) discussing the proposed legislation…
We’ll have to wait and see what the federal government does when they back into session, but it’s clear the states are taking this important driver safety issue seriously.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (NC-VA law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard, Virginia Beach Injuryboard, and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.