Monday, January 12, 2009

State Highway Safety Officials: Hang Up and Drive

GFP Note: At this time, Georgia law only bans cell phone use by school bus drivers.

Should any driver be in an accident, the crash scene data includes whether a cell phone was in use at the time of the accident.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Governors Highway Safety Association applauds the National Safety Council (NSC) for taking a strong stand against cell phone use while driving. The NSC has a long history of safety advocacy, and GHSA looks forward to working with the NSC to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving.

While the effectiveness of banning cell phone use is subject to debate, what is not debatable is that using ANY type of cell phone is distracting to drivers. Numerous studies have concluded that hands-free phone use does not mitigate crash risk. In a study released last year by Carnegie Mellon University, researcher Marcel Just stated that listening to a cell phone while driving can reduce by 37 percent the amount of brain activity associated with driving. This can cause drivers to weave out of their lane, based on the performance of subjects using a driving simulator. Just last month, another study from the University of Utah reaffirmed that hands-free phones are as distracting as handheld models.

While GHSA does not support a legislative ban on all cell phone use for all drivers, the Association continues to support a "no-use" message when it comes to cell phones and driving. GHSA specifically recommends that:

-- States ban all non-emergency cell phone use/text messaging for new
drivers as well as school bus drivers. Presently, only 17 state states
and the District of Columbia have enacted these laws.
-- States include a category for cell phone/electronic equipment
distraction on crash investigation forms. Currently, 29 states collect
this information.
-- The federal government funds a media campaign to alert the public to
the dangers of distracted driving. The federal government also should
continue funding research about distracted driving and examine the
effectiveness of laws and other countermeasures. The Association
appreciates the federal leadership on this issue.
-- The private sector takes a leadership role. As such, employers should
prohibit text messaging and the use of cell phones and other
electronic devices when driving except in emergency situations.

Georgia Front Page
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