Bans on Distracted Driving: Are States Going Overboard?

Some critics think state and federal lawmakers are too focused on things like mandating hands-free phones and outlawing texting while driving.
by | January 18, 2011
 

States' battles against "distracted driving" -- such as sending text messages and making cell phone calls from behind the wheel -- has been the hot issue for transportation safety advocates in recent years.

Now some critics are suggesting that state and federal leaders are so focused on that issue that they're ignoring other important aspects of roadway safety, such as promoting child booster seats and seatbelts.

"I am strongly in favor of efforts to better understand the problem, but in the meantime we shouldn't be distracted by distraction," Jeffrey Runge, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told USA TODAY.

NHTSA has recently proposed shifting $50 million away from seat belt initiatives to anti-texting iniatives, according to the newspaper.

The article reports that at least eight state legislatures are considering laws that would ban texting while driving — despite a lack of evidence linking the practice to a heightened risk of crashing. And another eight states are considering bans on using handheld cell phones while driving -- despite a lack of evidence indicating they are associated with more crashes than hand-free phones.

Since 2008, 29 states have banned texting while driving. Interestingly, according to the paper, it took 25 years to get the same number of states to pass laws allowing police to pull over drivers for failing to wear seat belts.

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