January 8, 2010

Four States – So Far – To Implement Stricter Laws Against Distracted Driving In 2010

You can spot them a mile away. They’re the ones driving 10 to 30 mph under the posted speed limit, swerving between lanes, speeding up only to slow down again and oddly stopping at a green light. These drivers are demonstrating the telltale signs that they are either impaired or distracted. Depending on which of many credible studies you want to believe, distracted drivers are responsible for up to 80 percent of the accidents reported in 2009. Sadly, the majority of these distracted motorists are those with the least amount of experience behind the wheel – motorists under the age of 20. The last decade has seen an explosion in hand-held technology and by far, the use of these devices is the number one distraction for motorists. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board is urging individual states to crack down on and take measures to reduce distraction for young drivers in its November 2009 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Issues.

Already this year, four out of the 50 states in the country have heard the call. Illinois, Kansas, New Hampshire and Oregon are all poised to implement new legislation designed to punish and discourage drivers from engaging in the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving. The proposed distracted driving laws vary from one state to another, but the spirit of the law is universal in all four states. Oregon laws will be the most restrictive, since the state plans to prohibit the use of any hand held device for drivers of all ages. Illinois and Kansas plan to target those drivers with probationary licenses and learner’s permits, while New Hampshire intends to crack down on those who send or receive text messages while driving.

Since 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board has been encouraging the electronics industry to employ their genius to create technology that would make the driving environment less complex and reduce the toll of injuries and deaths on the nation’s highways.’In his January 6, 2006 address at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV then acting chairman Mark V. Rosenker stated, ‘There are technologies that can improve safety in the driving environment. Adopting these safety enhancements and making them readily available to consumers should be an industry priority.’

Since then, the electronic industry has failed to gain the attention of young drivers with such measures. Perhaps the insurance industry will have the last say. In tandem with stricter laws that are spreading throughout the country, one can only imagine that obtaining an auto insurance quote for an affordable auto insurance rate will be infinitely more difficult if the driver has recorded citations for breaking the traffic laws in these states.