Federal government pushes states to ban texting while driving to combat fatal car accidents

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The federal government has unveiled sample legislation for states crafting laws to prohibit texting while driving, the latest move by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to combat distracted driving.

As reported earlier this year on Chicago Car Accident Lawyers blog, Illinois is a leader in reforming driving laws to combat serious and fatal Illinois car accidents: Two new laws took effect Jan. 1, making it illegal to text while driving or to talk on a cell phone while traveling in a school zone or construction site.

Drivers have been forbidden from using cell phones while driving within the City of Chicago since 2005.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 1 in 4 police-reported traffic crashes are the result of some form of driver distraction. An estimated 6,000 people died last year in fatal crashes caused by distracted or inattentive drivers. Research continues to show that young, inexperienced drivers under 20 — who are more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal car accident — are also more likely to text message while behind the wheel.

“Texting while driving, like talking on cell phones while driving, is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening practice,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This language, which we created with a variety of safety organizations, is another powerful tool in our arsenal to help the states combat this serious threat.”

In recent months, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting all federal employees from texting while driving and the federal government issued new guidelines making it illegal for drivers of commercial vehicles to text while driving.

Currently, 19 states have texting laws on the books. Nationwide, some 200 distracted driving laws were considered by state lawmakers. Though many did not make it into law, legislative activity is expected to remain strong this year.

Safety advocates content texting is particularly dangerous because it involves three forms of driver distraction: visual (eyes off the road), manual (hands off the wheel) and cognitive (mind off the road).

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the Chicago car accident attorneys and the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.