The Governors Highway Safety Administration has issued a recommendation that state lawmakers institute bans on handheld cell phone use in an effort to reduce crashes involving distracted driving, a rising concern in all states.
The GHSA's Recommendation Is the Next Step in Distracted Driving Legislation
This September, the GHSA asked all states to address the burgeoning distracted driving problem by enacting bans on handheld cell phone use for all drivers. The recommendation holds particular weight because GHSA membership includes the chief highway safety officers from each state.
States have the responsibility for regulating cell phone use while driving. However, some state lawmakers fear that authoring a bill that would restrict handheld use for all drivers would create voter backlash, despite the fact that such a ban would improve safety.
Handheld Ban: A Stepping Stone to a Full Ban on Cell Phone Use?
The recommendation to prohibit handheld cell phone use for all drivers may be a step toward a full ban on all cell phone use, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended in 2011. State distracted driving laws have evolved from being non-existent to banning texting while driving to banning handheld use for novice and commercial drivers. Some safety agencies hope that states will take the next step and ban handheld use, then later enact a full ban on all cell phone use.
Cell Phone Use While Driving: A Deadly Driving Behavior
In recent years, a variety of transportation safety agencies have studied the effects cell phone use and other distracted driving behaviors have on road safety. The National Safety Council found that one quarter of all crashes in the United States involve cell phone use, totaling 1.2 million motor vehicle accidents nationwide.
The NHTSA has extensively studied the consequences of distracted driving on road safety. The agency found that in 2010, nearly 4,000 were killed and another 416,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. The NHTSA has determined from its research that hands-free use of a cell phone does not necessarily increase safety, since the cognitive distraction of holding the conversation still persists. This is why the NHTSA and other safety organizations would like state lawmakers to eventually prohibit all cell phone use while driving.
Driving and using a cell phone can be a deadly combination. Thousands of deaths and injuries could be prevented every year if drivers put down their phones while behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a crash involving a driver on a cell phone, please seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.