Standard federal law needed to eliminate distracted driving caused by cell phones

/ / Law Blog

As a personal injury attorney in Stuart and Port St. Lucie for the past 23 years, I have seen many developments in technology and driving habits that have helped to improve safety on the road.

Cars and trucks have more safety features like multi-staged airbags and some vehicles can now stop by themselves before rear-ending another vehicle. Driver awareness has increased because vehicle operators know their insurance rates will go up if they cause an accident.

Unfortunately we are all aware of an opposite trend in driving safety: distracted driving. The main culprit is the ever-present cell phone.

Last year there were more than 3,000 motor vehicle fatalities across the nation associated with cell phone use. Because of this the federal government is looking into a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving; this may also encompass hands-free use.

Currently, 38 states have laws restricting or banning cellphone use while driving. The remaining 12 states, including Florida, have considered such laws, but so far their legislatures have not passed any bills.

The patchwork of state laws can cause some confusion in areas where people routinely cross state borders. Because of the mounting death toll, it is high time the federal government take action to standardize laws relating to cell phone use and driving.

Just like driving under the influence of alcohol, distracted driving caused by cell phone use is preventable. All a driver has to do is abide by the law.

The only way to ensure compliance is to put teeth into the law. There are stiff penalties associated with driving under the influence and the same should apply to distracted driving caused by cell phone use.

Newer cars equipped with hands-free technology don’t provide much more safety for distracted driving. A driver must still divert attention from the road to control the phone. All it takes is a momentary distraction for disaster to ensue.

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation is pushing for a federal law that would ban cell phone use and texting while driving, Reuters reports. When Congress considers a bill pertaining to cell phone use and distracted driving, I encourage you to support the change. Every driver’s and passenger’s well-being depends on it.