Drivers in Illinois, ages 18-years-old and older, are allowed to take their attention off the roadway and talk on their cell phone while behind the wheel of a car if they want. Well, everyone outside of Chicago is allowed to. That could all change very soon, if Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. has her way.
She recently proposed a House bill that looks to federalize driving and cell phone usage, according to Auto Trends Magazine.
As it stands now, these are laws that are managed by individual states. Under the proposed legislation, the U.S. Department of Transportation would be required to set up a nationwide standard that would prohibit all cell phone use while driving. McCarthy’s House bill aims to reduce the number of distracted driving car accidents in Illinois and elsewhere in the United States.
In the meantime, many local law enforcement agencies are doing everything they can to raise awareness and enforcement efforts to push the laws that they do have. A number of recent studies have illustrated the effectiveness of more visible enforcement efforts.
Nearly 5,500 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2009 alone because of car accidents that reported the involvement of a distracted driver, according to Distraction.gov. Another 448,000 people were injured because of these types of accidents. Our Chicago car accident attorneys understand that a nationwide ban on cell phone use by drivers has the potential to truly benefit the safety of everyone on our roadways. According to these statistics, roughly 20 percent of all injury crashes that happened in 2009 involved a distracted driver. These numbers can be drastically reduced with the proper awareness, laws and enforcement. No cell phone conversation is worth a human life.
“Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common,” Rep. McCarthy said. “With some basic commonsense rules that are already in place in some parts of the country, we can reduce injuries and save lives in America.”
Safe driving advocates everywhere are stepping up awareness campaigns and enforcement efforts in an attempt to reduce the occurrence of this dangerous driving habit. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that a recent study returned dramatic reductions in distracted driving in both Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut. These studies included two pilot projects that were used to measure the effect of increased law enforcement coupled with high-profile public education campaigns.
“These findings show that strong laws, combined with highly-visible police enforcement, can significantly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Based on these results, it is crystal clear that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious error in judgment, especially when half a million people are injured and thousands more are killed in distracted driving accidents.”
Each of these programs was funded by $200,000 in federal funds and $100,000 from the state. The result proved that increased police enforcement accompanied by paid advertising and news media coverage indeed made a significant reduction in distracted driving. Television campaigns were aired and bulletin boards were posted to warn drivers about this dangerous driving habit and of the law enforcement crackdown on the behavior.
After the increased enforcement efforts:
-Syracuse, New York, witnessed that both handheld cell phone use and texting declined by one-third with just the use of high-visibility law enforcement.
-Hartford, Connecticut saw nearly a 60 percent decrease in handheld use. Texting by drivers decreased by nearly three-quarters.
“The success of these pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead.”
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys 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.
Safe Drivers Act of 2011 Introduced to Congress, by Matt Keegan, Auto Trends Magazine
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