March 27, 2023

Distracted driving laws become more widely enacted

Most of us are well aware of the dangers of breaking traffic laws by speeding, running stop signs, and drinking and driving. But, driving distracted? Previously, distracted driving was rarely talked about, and the prevailing mentality was that everyone has to change the radio station sometime. However, with the advent of cell phones and texting (and the resulting accidents), distracted driving has become a hot-button issue.

A recent article in USA Today reports that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated his creation of a “national distracted driving initiative that pushes 11 states without laws against the deadly practice to enact them.” According to the article, LaHood has also advised Congress to adopt a nation-wide ban on cellphone use while driving.

LaHood’s initiative follows after Aaron Deveau, a Massachusetts teenager, was sentenced to one year in prison for motor vehicular homicide and negligent operation while texting. Deveau was purportedly texting while driving as he crossed the median line and hit another car head-on, resulting in the death of the driver and serious injuries to the passenger. Deveau is one of the first convicted of Massachusett’s negligent driving while texting law, enacted in 2010.

Programs by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been put into place in several states to reduce the instances of distracted driving. In 2009, 18 states had banned texting while driving. Today, 39 states and Washington, D.C. ban texting behind the wheel. Moreover, 10 states prohibit any kind of handheld cell phone use while driving. Washington State is one of the states to have a ban on texting while driving as well as a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Following the current trend, more states will most likely adopt bans on texting and all cell phone use in the car. When you get behind the wheel, it is important to practice attentive driving and know the laws of your state. Texting and talking on the phone behind the wheel could result in a getting a ticket, or worse, being charged for negligent driving or vehicular homicide.

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