Contributed by Lora Stead
We’ve all seen ’em: drivers weaving in and out of their lanes, running lights and slamming on their brakes because they are distracted. It’s not a new idea that cell phones are among the top driver distractions. In fact, at any given daylight moment, about 660,000 drivers of the 210 million licensed drivers in the US are using cell phones while driving, says NHTSA. Additionally, almost half of all drivers admit to answering phone calls while driving and 1 in 4 drivers place calls while driving.
These statistics, and the 1.6 million crashes caused nationwide every year by drivers using a cell phone, remind us that though texting and driving is illegal for all ages in Utah and 38 other states, driving while using a cell phone in any way is dangerous. In fact, the National Safety Council estimated that 200,000 of the cell-phone-related crashes yearly involve texting and the other 1.4 million are related to other mobile use while driving.
But do you ever talk on a cell phone while driving? Does your spouse? Do you mind if your kids do?
Starting May 14, drivers under eighteen years old in Utah who are caught talking on a cell phone while driving can be pulled over and fined. 35 additional states have restricted all cell phone use by novice drivers and 10 states have banned any age from driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone. For state-specific cell phone laws, click here.
As a member of UDOT’s Zero Fatalities outreach team, I’m interested to know what the public thinks about restrictions for driving while using a cell phone. I can be a better educator by understanding where people stand. So please weigh in: Do you think talking on a cell phone while driving should be illegal for all drivers or just teens?