December 1, 2011

Oregon is a little ahead of the curve when it comes to handheld electronic devices and driving. The state first limited the use of cell phones while driving back in 2007; the law was revised in 2009 and again this year. Legislators may take another crack at it, though, in light of the National Transportation Safety Board’s conclusions about a 2010 accident that killed two people and injured an additional 38.

The NTSB reported that the 19-year-old at the wheel of the pick-up — the first vehicle in the chain reaction — had sent 11 text messages in the 11 minutes just prior to the crash. His truck rear-ended a tractor trailer that had slowed for construction. A school bus then rear-ended and ran over the pick-up, then another school bus rammed the back of the first bus. The pick-up driver and one of the students were killed.

This investigation is just the latest in a string of distracted driving crashes, and it seems to have been the last straw for the NTSB. The agency is recommending an all-out ban on using a cell phone while driving — even hands-free use would be out. The agency also recommended that states enforce their cell phone laws more aggressively.

States have adopted cell phone laws at an irregular pace. For example:

  • 35 states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting while driving.
  • 9 states and the District of Columbia bar the use of all hand-held devices while driving.
  • 30 states prohibit beginning drivers’ use of cell phones.

The road to cell-free driving has hit more than a few bumps, and we’ll discuss those in our next post.

Source: OregonLive.com, “No cellphones, no texting by drivers, US urges,” AP, Dec. 13, 2011


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