Laws aimed at putting a stop to texting while driving swept the nation in recent years. In total, 44 states have enacted total bans on texting behind the wheel. Texting is viewed as a dangerous distraction for someone who should be focusing on safe driving. While distracted driving is a larger problem than just texting, the bans were correctly targeted to a growing trend that was causing car accidents. Unfortunately, the bans have not necessarily proven effective at actually preventing people from texting and driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 420,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2012. Texting was the culprit in more than a few of those cases. The bans have served to discourage people from blatantly texting, but that might have simply driven them to lower their eyes further and attempt to text on cell phones held on their laps. The bans vary in the authority given to police to catch and punish drivers for texting. It is not always easy to catch a driver suspected of this form of distracted driving.
New York and Connecticut are two of the states looking at new ways to catch drivers texting. New York has invested in SUVs to raise the vantage point of police, allowing them to see into neighboring vehicles more easily. Connecticut received an NHTSA grant to experiment with enforcement measures, including looking into vehicles from overpasses. In cases involving car accidents causing injuries or death, investigators can review a driver’s phone records for texting behavior. Finally, more laws may be passed allowing police to stop vehicles whose drivers are suspiciously staring into their own laps.
Really, the bans shouldn’t be necessary. Driving a vehicle safely requires all of your attention. Texts and cell phone conversations can wait while you are driving.
Source: Yahoo Autos, “6 ways the cops know you’re texting” by Mark Vallet, 21 October 2014