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: UK body warns drone owners: Fly safely, or you'll be fined

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

GPS used to track some immigrants caught at border

Dec 24, 2014

The Homeland Security Department is experimenting with a new way to track immigrant families caught crossing the border illegally and then released into the U.S.: GPS-enabled ankle bracelets.

Report: FBI's anthrax investigation was flawed

Dec 19, 2014

The FBI used flawed scientific methods to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, federal auditors said Friday in a report sure to fuel skepticism over the FBI's ...

Study reveals mature motorists worse at texting and driving

Dec 18, 2014

A Wayne State University interdisciplinary research team in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has made a surprising discovery: older, more mature motorists—who typically are better drivers in ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.