More Uniform, Federal Statutes Could Limit Cellphone Use Behind the Wheel and Save Lives
A car traveling 55 mph moves 80 feet every second. It takes about 5 seconds to read the average text, so if you are driving and texting, you could conceivably travel the length of a football field without ever looking at the road. Drivers who refuse to put the phone down while driving could easily hit a person, another car, or something else while distracted. Distracted driving continues to plague roadways across the country as officials continue looking for a way to stop the dangerous habit. One way may be developing standard laws against distracted driving and prosecuting those who do drive while using a cell phone.
Safety Officials Looking at Harsher Prosecution of Distracted Drivers
According to reports a few years ago, mobile devices and gadgets outnumbered people on the planet. In 2014, there were approximately 7.2 billion people in the world, and according to mobile analysis, there were more than 7.2 billion subscriber identity modules, better known as SIM cards. Considering that SIM card use is growing five times faster than the population, it’s apparent that wireless activity plays a major role in daily events, even when drivers get behind the wheel.
In 2015, federal officials estimated that 660,000 people drive while using their phone, which they say led to the deaths of nearly 3,500 people with another 391,000 injured. In Colorado last year, authorities stated that 40 car accidents occurred every day due to distracted driving resulting in 67 deaths for the year. Authorities are working with state legislatures to pass tougher distracted driving laws, but there seems to be a glaring problem with prosecuting those caught; there are no standard laws in place, meaning, the laws vary from state-to-state and even city-to-city.
A national study released a few months ago focused on providing a standard guidance for all states when it comes to prosecuting distracted drivers when there is a loss of life or serious injuries resulting from a distracted driving accident. According to the research, a significant challenge to enforcing stricter distracted driving laws is that officers must observe the behavior before stopping a driver. What’s even more frustrating to law enforcement is that proving someone has been texting or talking on a phone can be a challenge. There must be concrete proof, and that can be elusive.
Current Federal Statutes for Cell Phone Use While Driving
As noted in the national study, regardless of what state you live in, there are some federal bans in place for cell phone use and driving. Specifically, federal law bans commercial truck drivers, bus drivers, and those transporting hazardous materials from using phones. But other than that, what is legal behind the wheel depends on where you live. For instance, in a majority of U.S. states, there is no ban on elderly drivers when it comes to hand-held devices. However, when focusing on young drivers, the map flips. Most of the U.S. does have a ban on younger drivers using cell phones while driving. When it comes to texting, all but three states have a ban, but again, officials say enforcing that ban is challenging at best; there’s a long way to go before a streamlined process can be executed by law enforcement.
Safety officials and government offices can only do so much. Distracted driving in Colorado won’t be solved unless more drivers decide to put away their mobile devices before the car starts. If you must use an electronic device, pull over to a safe place on the side of the road or into the parking lot of a nearby establishment and once you’ve stopped, make the call or send the text. A few minutes of inconvenience could mean the difference between life and death for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.