This week, the National Safety Council (NSC) issued a call for a US-wide ban that would prohibit motorists from using cell phones while driving. The consumer safety organization says it will lobby all 50 US states and Washington DC to implement laws that ban the use of both hand-held and hand-free cell phones and text messaging whenever a driver is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
The NSC says that there is now clear scientific evidence to show that use of a cellular phone while driving increases the risks of the driver becoming involved in a motor vehicle crash. According to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis:
• 6% of traffic accidents (636,000 motor vehicle collisions) that occur each year happen because someone was using a cell phone.
• 330,000 people were injured in these accidents.
• 12,000 of the injuries were serious.
• 2,600 people died in auto collisions that involved cell phone use.
According to researchers at the University of Utah, over 100 million people talk or text message on cell phones when driving. Dr. Gavin Melmed of Baylor University Medical Center in Waco, Texas agrees that legislation, more education, and enforcement are needed to get people to see how cell phone use, like driving without a seatbelt and drunk driving, is unacceptable behavior while operating a vehicle.
While certain US states have a ban on handheld cell phones, no state has completely banned the use of all cell phones while driving. Oregon law bans drivers younger than 18 from talking or text messaging on a cell phone while driving. However, in order to be cited for violating this law, the use of the cell phone must be a secondary offense. This means the young or novice driver had to have violated another law by, for example, speeding or drunk driving. Oregon police officers say that enforcing this law has proven challenging. As of January 8, there were no records of citations in Portland, Eugene, Pendleton, and Bend.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers who use cell phones when operating their vehicles quadruple their chances of becoming involved in a motor vehicle crash. Cell phone use while driving is a form of driver inattention.
National Safety Council Calls for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving, NSC.org, January 12, 2009
Ore. teen drivers not cited, year after cell-phone ban, KTVZ, January 8, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Cellphones and Driving, Insurance Information Institute
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association
If you were injured in an Oregon auto accident because another motorist was engaged in careless or reckless conduct, contact our Portland personal injury law firm today.