Do you hold your cell phone and talk while you’re driving? You may not be able to for much longer if a proposed bill that has begun winding its way through Congress becomes law. The U.S. House has just introduced legislation called the Safe Drivers Act of 2011 that bans motorists from holding a cell phone and having a conversation while driving except in case of emergency.
“Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common,” Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., told the Detroit Free Press. “With some basic common-sense rules that are already in place in some parts of the country, we can reduce injuries and save lives in America.”
Devices that allow hands-free usage of a phone through Bluetooth and other technology would be permitted under the new proposed law. The Department of Transportation has also been ordered to study if talking on a phone at all while driving is a threat. The DOT will have to report its findings in two years, which may result in further tightening restrictions. Infotainment technology that has been proliferating rapidly in cars in recent years is also potentially in the crosshairs. Some safety experts believe they already pose too much of a distraction.
Citing DOT figures, McCarthy said at least 5400 people died in accidents in which distracted driving was a factor in 2009. Nine states already prohibit driving while holding and talking on a cell phone while driving and 34 states have banned texting while driving. The new legislation would also make texting in every state illegal as well.
Source: Detroit Free Press