In 2011, over 3,330 people were killed and over 387,000 injured in motor vehicle accidents connected to distracted driving, representing 10 percent of all fatal crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
However, a proposed bill hopes to decrease these statistics by allowing police to take direct action to limit the use of cellphones.
Rep.Michael Sheehy, D-Toledo, introduced House Bill 88 to make texting and driving a primary enforcement of the state rather than a secondary one that is currently being enforced under the law. This means that a police officer would be able to pull drivers over and cite them for texting and driving without having another primary reason.
HB 88 would also require a limitation of texting while driving in school zones during school hours and construction zones during hours of actual work. This would also prohibit drivers 18 and under from using an electronic device during the operation of vehicles, and it could lead to a possible fine of no more than $150.
The bill is related to a similar piece of texting and driving legislation, HB 86, which placed texting and driving only as a secondary enforcement. Both bills were introduced February 25 and were sent to the Veterans Affairs, Armed Services and Public Safety on March 4.
Combating texting and driving is an initiative also being pushed on a national level. Federal websites such as the Official United States Website for Distracted Driving tell the stories of people who have seen or been part of an accident and encourage people to pledge against texting and driving. It also gives information to teens, parents, educators, employers and community groups.
However, Russ Rader, Senior Vice President for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, said texting and driving laws may not be the best way to combat the problem.
“Unfortunately so far we haven’t seen any evidence that these laws will work to reduce crashes,” Rader said in an email citing studies that back up this claim. “There is some evidence that texting bans have a negative effect.”
Rader believes the increased regulations spur people to be sneakier while they text and drive, making it even more dangerous.
“In a study of states where texting bans were enacted, crashes actually went up slightly in three of the four states studied. That may be because drivers, mindful of the law, try to conceal their devices by moving them below window level, taking their eyes off the road for a longer period,” said Rader.