Mixed signals on cellphone bans

Jul 13, 2011 By Larry Copeland

It's legal in 41 states for drivers to use hand-held cell phones, and a leading highway safety organization recommends keeping it that way for now.

The Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA, urges states to hold off on banning the practice until more research is done to gauge the effectiveness of such laws.

"The problem is the research is conflicting on the issue," says Barbara Harsha, executive director of the group, which advises states on traffic safety. "We don't know if hand-held bans are effective, and we don't know if they actually make the problem worse."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said last year it found no reduction in crashes after hand-held cellphones were banned in California, Connecticut, New York and Washington, D.C.

The National Safety Council says hand-held bans don't go far enough. "We think there is enough research to enact total bans, hand-held and hands-free," says David Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives at the NSC. "And there's no evidence that hands-free devices provide any safety impact."

At the National Administration, the federal agency that tracks road deaths, "we feel strongly there is robust evidence on the dangers of distracted driving," says Lynda Tran, NHTSA's director of communications.

The GHSA made its recommendation after reviewing research on distracted driving since 2000 - about 350 studies, Harsha says.

That review followed questions from governors and state legislators who are trying to navigate this still-unfolding aspect of road safety.

Ray LaHood has made curbing distracted driving a signature issue.

Some corporations restrict the use of cellphones by employees while in company vehicles. And among some federal workers, the use of the devices while driving is limited.

The greatest momentum has come from lawmakers at the state level: Nine states and the District of Columbia ban hand-held cellphones for all drivers.

Texting while driving is illegal in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Twelve states banned it in 2009, 11 did so last year, and two have so far this year.

No ban all cellphone use by all drivers.

According to the Department of Transportation, 5,474 people died and another 448,000 were hurt in crashes involving all forms of in 2009.

Explore further: US official: Auto safety agency under review

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Administration takes aim at distracted driving

Sep 30, 2009

(AP) -- Driving while distracted is a growing peril in a nation reluctant to put down its cell phones and handheld devices even behind the wheel, the Obama administration declared on Wednesday. Officials said Congress and ...

LaHood calls summit on distracted driving

Aug 04, 2009

(AP) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday he will convene a summit of experts to figure out what to do about driver cell phone use and texting, practices that studies - and a growing number of accidents - ...

Gov't set to ban texting by truck, bus drivers

Mar 31, 2010

(AP) -- The Transportation Department on Wednesday proposed a ban on text messaging at the wheel by interstate truck and bus drivers, following up on its call to reduce distractions that lead to crashes.

Ford backs bill to ban texting while driving

Sep 11, 2009

(AP) -- Ford said Thursday it backs federal legislation pressuring states to ban texting while driving in an effort to reduce driver distractions that could lead to accidents.

Recommended for you

US official: Auto safety agency under review

Oct 24, 2014

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Christian Bale to play Apple's Steve Jobs

Oct 23, 2014

Oscar-winner Christian Bale—best known for his star turn as Batman in the blockbuster "Dark Knight" films—will play Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic.

How to find a submarine

Oct 23, 2014

Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October, The Bedford Incident, We Dive At Dawn: films based on submariners' experience reflect the tense and unusual nature of undersea warfare – where it is often not how well ...

Government ups air bag warning to 7.8M vehicles (Update)

Oct 22, 2014

The U.S. government is now urging owners of nearly 8 million cars and trucks to have the air bags repaired because of potential danger to drivers and passengers. But the effort is being complicated by confusing ...

User comments : 0