Most are well aware of the potential consequences for breaking traffic laws, such as speeding, running stop signs, and drinking and driving. In particular, drinking and driving has been an enormous social concern for many in the U.S., which has lead to legislative action and stiffer penalties over the years.
But what about distracted driving?
Previously distracted driving was not a phenomenon that was often discussed. Changing the radio was the most common distraction while driving and was not viewed as particularly harmful.
Now, with the advent of cell phones and texting – and the resulting accidents – distracted driving has become a controversial, highly legislated issue.
A recent article in USA Today reports that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated his creation of a “national distracted driving initiative that pushes 11 states without laws against the deadly practice to enact them.”
According to the article, LaHood has also urged Congress to enact a bank nationwide on the use of cellphones while operating a vehicle.
Lahood’s initiative follows the sentencing of Aaron Deveau. Deveau, a Massachusetts teenager, must give up to one year in prison for motor vehicular homicide and negligent operation of a vehicle while texting.
Deveau was allegedly texting while driving, causing him to cross the road’s median line and crash into another car. This resulted in the death of the driver and serious injuries to the passenger. Deveau is one of the first drivers convicted under Massachusetts’s negligent driving while texting law, which came into effect in 2010.
As distracted driving is increasingly viewed as a large concern by the public and by policy-makers, laws have been passed to combat it.
By 2009, 18 states had banned texting while driving. Today, 39 states and Washington, D.C. have banned texting behind the wheel. 10 states, including California, prohibit any kind of handheld cellphone use while behind the wheel. More states are likely to follow the current trend and adopt bans on the use of all cellphones while operating a motor vehicle.
When you get behind the wheel, it is important to know the laws of your state. In California, texting and even talking could result in a ticket or more serious charges that would require a traffic law attorney.