Hang Up and Drive

Posted on July 5, 2008

Washington State this week decided that if you talk on the cellphone while driving you can face a $101 fine.

Washington State joins four other states — California, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, that have cellphone restrictions while driving. And this is more than Florida has, or apparently will have.

Florida is one of eight states  including Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah, that prohibit a ban on the practice. In other words, the state will not be putting any bans on talking on the phone while driving, anytime soon.

A measure that would have made it against the law to talk on a cellphone or send text messages while driving, was put on hold in the state Senate a year ago.

Not surprisingingly, the bill SB2372, was opposed by some phone companies. They argue that few crashes are caused by distracted drivers and besides, putting on makeup or eating is just as distracting.

“We think current driving laws give our law enforcement officers a lot of leeway,” to ticket drivers who are being careless, said Doug Mannheimer, a lobbyist for Sprint.

Senator Carey Baker had proposed a bill banning cellphone use while driving for those under 18 years of age.  He then backed off, saying they had been presented with conflicting data on the distraction issue of cell phones.

Forgetting the telephone lobbyists, many think cellphone and texting bans are a good idea.  

Motorcyclists say they are always dodging distracted drivers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that  17 states and the District of Columbia restrict both hand-held and hands-free phone use by young drivers, who tend to be the least experienced drivers, therefore most likely to be distracted.

Florida needs to join states that outright ban the use of hand-held cellphone while driving. The Governors Highway Safety Association is keeping an eye on the issue and Florida does not fare well in sending a message to motorists to take this issue seriously. 

It’;s already dangerous enough to get behind a wheel, we don’;t need distracted drivers.

If you or a loved one has been in an auto accident, and you feel the other driver was distracted or negligent, we at Farah & Farah are here to help.   #

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