Federal ban sought to limit distracted driving

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U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called for a federal ban on using a cell phone–for texting or talking–while driving.  At a distracted driving summit in San Antonio, Texas, Secretary LaHood voiced support for tough federal legislation to respond to a “national epidemic” of distracted driving.  LaHood had previously supported state laws banning cell phone use by drivers, but this is the first time he has called for a federal law.  Currently, 38 states have laws that restrict or prohibit using electronic devices while driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving caused 3,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2011. The NHTSA reports that using a cell phone while driving delays the driver’s reaction time to the same degree as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08.

“Every single time someone takes their focus off the road–even if just for a moment–they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” said LaHood. “Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible, and, in a split second, its consequences can be devastating. There’s no call or email so important that it can’t wait,” he added.  According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds, which is long enough to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph.  Most motor vehicle accidents happen with less than 3 seconds reaction time.

In addition to the call for a ban on cell phone use, Secretary LaHood reported that the NHTSA was researching the impact of hands-free devices. He has personally called the CEOs of major automobile manufacturers urging them to “think twice” before placing internet-connected systems in cars.

For more information, contact the Ohio cell phone accident lawyers at Clark, Perdue & List.

Source: Reuters, “U.S. ban sought on cell phone use while driving,” Jim Forsyth, April 26, 2012