Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cellphone/Texting legislation

It's almost axiomatic – philosophically, at least – that mankind's technological advances & evolution will always out-pace his own. Somewhere along the line, the law often comes in.

An article in last Thursday's Columbus Dispatch said, "the issue du jour for Ohio legislators appears to be making sure drivers keep their eyes on the road, and not on a cell phone with legislators having introduced six bills in the past four months dealing with cell phones & driving. [ i.e.,See HB 261, HB 262, HB 266, HB 270, and SB 160 ]

An earlier, Dayton Daily News article two weeks ago, said "With the use of cell phones and text messaging exploding across the country, states are scrambling to combat these potentially dangerous distractions to drivers trying to navigate crowded highways and streets," noting that "so far, 17 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging while driving, and six of those states along with Washington, D.C., have also outlawed the use of hand-held cell phones altogether while behind the wheel," according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. [ The Governors Highway Safety Association’s website has a summary table of state laws restricting cell phone use ]

Six states permit individual jurisdictions, such as cities, townships & counties, to pass such local laws barring cell phone use while driving, while another 8 states, such as Kentucky, specifically prohibit it, according to the Governors' Highway site. The City of Cleveland, for instance, passed such an ordinance last July banning texting while driving, and the 7th. Circuit Court of Appeals, on August 13th. agreed with its district court that "a class action mounting a constitutional challenge to the 2005 city law 'has no legs,' and that that law also precludes texting and surfing the Internet while driving." (See Gayle Schor v. Richard Daley, 08-2837 on 08/13/2009 )

New York was the first state to ban cell phone use while driving, back in 2001; the state of Washington was the first to outlaw texting, specifically, while driving.

No state completely bars all types of cell phone use (handheld & hands-free) for all drivers, but six (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington), the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from talking on handheld cell phones while driving, and, with the exception of Washington State, these laws are all 'primary enforcement'— meaning an officer may ticket a driver for using a handheld cell phone while driving without any other traffic offense taking place, according to the Governors' Highway site.

Talking on cell phones or texting while driving is also a matter being addressed by both the United States and British governments on their national levels. A BBC article last year quoted Deputy chief constable Adam Briggs, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, the principal agency in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for developing police agency policy, as saying that the fact that police had issued nearly 165,000 fixed penalty notices to motorists for using mobile phones in 2006 showed how seriously police took the matter. "Any use of a mobile phone while driving is totally unacceptable and we will continue to target drivers who do so," Briggs said. A 2008 study done in Great Britain is also often being referred to.

Senate Bill 1536 here in the United States, introduced July 29th., would "reduce the amount of Federal highway funding available to states that do not enact a law prohibiting an individual from writing, sending, or reading text messages while operating a motor vehicle." Government, the beginning of this month, reported, that "Driver use of text messaging and electronic devices will be the subject of a September summit in Washington, D.C., called by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood."

1 comment: said...

It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is what I think.