No Total Ban on Cell Phone Use for Drivers Yet

While cell phone use and texting while driving can be distracting enough to cause crashes, no state has instituted a total ban on cell phone use for drivers yet. Recently the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) opted not to throw its weight behind such a proposal in California, mainly because enforcing such a ban would be impossible. As some groups continue to push for a total cell phone ban behind the wheel, others like the GHSA and the federal government seem to realize the limits with how effective cell phone bans can be.

Distracted Driving

The issue of distracted driving, which includes texting and cell phone use while driving, has been a hot topic for many safety advocacy groups and both local and national governmental entities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving distracted contributed to almost 5,500 deaths and around 448,000 injuries nationally from vehicle crashes in 2009. These numbers have led 30 states and D.C. to totally ban texting while driving and eight states to require hands-free devices for cell phone use in cars.

GHSA Pulls Back

Instead of pursuing a California proposal to push state lawmakers to fully ban cell phone use while driving, GHSA pulled back and faced a few realities. The ban would outlaw hands-free devices like Bluetooth without proof that car accidents would decrease as a result. Using the example of trying to control speeding, one GHSA spokesperson stated that current state laws should be proven effective before issuing further restrictions. How to enforce such a ban is still the main issue, but the GHSA may revisit the proposal again later.

Enforcement Limitations

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been at the front of the fight against distracted drivers, but he has never supported a complete ban on cell phone use while driving. This may be due in part to several federally-funded studies in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, that found it was easier to catch someone on a cell phone versus texting while driving. Other daunting data are recent survey results that 70 percent of people use their cell phones while driving, even though 62 percent think it is dangerous.

What Now?

According to the National Safety Council, cell phones are used by nearly 100 million drivers in the U.S., with over 800,000 drivers using them at any given moment of the day. Now may not be the time to institute a total ban on cell phone use while driving, as shown by the GHSA's decision, but the safety issue could grow as cell phone use in general increases, causing more deaths and injuries. If you are involved in a car crash where a driver was texting or talking while driving, be sure to call a local personal injury attorney for advice.