By Ed Greenberger, THELAW.TV
Cell phones are everywhere these days. That includes people using their phones in their cars and trucks, which can lead to distracted driving. This presents a safety issue on America’s roads rivaling drunk driving.
Many states have recently banned using cell phones or texting in vehicles. Now, in the wake of some horrific crashes, a federal agency is recommending a nationwide ban on commercial truckers using cell phones on the road.
On March 26, 2010, a tractor-trailer slammed head-on into a van in Kentucky, killing 11 people. After the fiery crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that distraction from the truck driver’s cell phone likely caused the accident.
And in September 2011, the NTSB suggested the federal government should prohibit America’s commercial truck drivers from using cell phones in their trucks.
Obviously, big rigs can do more damage than a passenger car or SUV. But any vehicle can become deadly if the driver is paying attention to a cell phone instead of the road.
More than half of all states have begun to regulate or prohibit texting while driving. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 34 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. But these days, cell phones don’t just make phone calls and allow you to text.
Smartphones allow you to listen to music, use GPS programs, read emails and do many other things that will keep your eyes off the road. For that reason, nine states and the District of Columbia have banned all uses of handheld cell phones on the road.
“Although these laws exist in several states, police departments have found them difficult to enforce,” says attorney Martin Sweet of legal information website
THELAW.TV ( http://thelaw.tv ).
In the states where it is illegal to text message in a car but legal to use a cell phone, police officers have a tough time figuring out what they’re seeing. What looks like a driver typing out a text message could be the driver dialing a phone number or typing an address into a smartphone-based GPS application.
According to a PBS Newshour report, not a single citation was issued for texting while driving in Tennessee in the first three months after lawmakers issued a statewide ban.
“What was a very bad thing to do is now illegal” says Baltimore, Maryland personal injury attorney Paul Tolzman of Leviness Tolzman & Hamilton . "As of Oct. 1st a new law was passed in Baltimore that says typing or sending a text is now a crime punishable by a fine or even worse you can wind up in a serious accident or death. We strongly urge to pay attention on the road at all times.”
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.