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Thursday, August 12, 2010
Distracted Driving: Bans on Texting While Driving
A recently-published survey by Seventeen magazine and AAA have yielded a surprising result: even through all the months of reminding drivers and most especially teen drivers about texting while driving, the problem persists in our nation's youth.
Not that efforts by various organizations and law enforcement are in vain; these surveys were conducted in May, and given that several states have created new laws to combat this, the numbers in the present may be different. Take Connecticut, for example, where there's a ban for all drivers, teens or not, from using their cell phones while driving, has reported that the new laws are reducing the number of crashes. (http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/theridgefieldpress/news/localnews/66284-new-teen-driving-laws-are-reducing-crashes-says-rell.html)
Let's take a look at the situation, state-per-state, and how it will affect driving behavior in months to come.
Ban for all drivers
Mobile phones for ALL drivers, regardless of age or experience, the states that currently have this are: Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York.
What does this mean? This means that drivers who are caught driving while using/holding/operating a mobile phone may be reprimanded, what differs is how the state chooses to enforce this. For example, in Utah, there is no offense when speaking on a cell phone, unless a driver also commits some other moving violation other than speeding. In Utah, this offense is called careless driving.
In other states, there are bans only for inexperienced drivers. This means drivers who still have their learner's/provisional license, under 18 and are still on their way to getting a full license. States that enforce this are: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, West Virginia and Maine.
This doesn't mean that the law will completely allow full-license holders to go about operating their mobiles while driving. Some states require the vehicle to be in full stop before drivers are allowed to operate their phones.
Some states are still waiting for official laws to be enacted, although with the current flood of distracted driving statistics, alerts, news, along with petitions from concerned drivers/citizens, it is only a matter of waiting for a law to pass. These states are: Montana, North and South Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, Florida, South Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Aside from state-wide bans, various local jurisdictions have found out that they may or may not need state authority to impose a ban. Localities that have placed restrictions include: Oahu, HI; Chicago, IL; Brookline, MA; Detroit, MI; Santa Fe, NM; Brooklyn, North Olmstead, and Walton Hills, OH; Conshohocken, Lebanon, and West Conshohocken, PA; Waupaca County, WI; and Cheyenne, WY.
AAA is aiming for a texting-ban on all 50 states. Which might not be all that surprising, given all these facts and surveys. Keep the phone in the glove compartment or pocket when driving.