Earlier this week, American.com released an opinion article which detailed the frequently discussed topic of distracted driving. In an area which affects both the truck industry, as well as, the general public, the subject of driving while talking or texting on a cellular phone has been subjected to various laws enacted by numerous states. In one of our previous posts, our Illinois truck accident blog discussed the recent announcement that was made by the National Traffic Safety Board which recommended that all states ban drivers from using a portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Despite this recommendation, there is no state that currently bans the use of hands-free telecommunication devices for drivers.
Although there is no outright ban of cellular telephone use for drivers, numerous states have enacted several pieces of legislation which regulates electronic communication use. According to the Governors Highway Traffic Association, 35 states currently ban texting while driving, all the while nine states forbid hand-held cell phone use by drivers of motor vehicles and 30 states prohibit all cellular communication for new drivers. When it comes to regulating such a substantial issue that affects nearly all drivers, any Chicago truck accident lawyer will tell you that it is important to look at the numerous studies that have been conducted to determine the risks associated with cellular device use and driving.
In July 2009, a study was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute which revealed that texting while driving increases the probability of a motor vehicle accident by 20 times while dialing a cellular telephone increases the risk of a collision by 2.8 times. Overall, the study concluded that the most consequential factor in determining the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident is whether or not the operator of the vehicle keeps their eyes on the road. Similar statistics were gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010 where it was revealed that of the 32,800 motor vehicle fatalities reported that year, over 3,000 were attributed to driver distraction. The study labeled driver distraction as: driver cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, using in-vehicle technology, as well as, conversing with passengers.
Unfortunately, our Chicago truck accident attorneys learned that although numerous states have enacted legislation which bans texting while driving, the issue of comparing cell phone use to texting as a primary source of driver distraction is limited given that there is no empirical evidence to support this claim. Currently, federal regulatory agencies lump the two categories together making it impossible to distinguish accident statistics between the two. The news article points out that the sooner nationwide legislation is enacted to prevent dangerous driving habits, the sooner our roads will become a much safer place to travel.