National safety group the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released its most recent position on driver compliance policies related to distracted driving and drugged driving, according to a statement. The organization also called for a ban on the use of handheld phones for drivers.
The GHSA referenced various local jurisdictions that have passed laws including most states and the District of Columbia, and suggested that these individual states ban all drivers from the use of their cellphones.
The governors safety group stated that, while bans of texting and handheld use of cellphones are both crucial, texting bans can be challenging to enforce if not enacted along with bans on handheld phones. In the 29 states that ban texting but not the use of handheld phones, a driver can claim he was simply dialing a phone number if he is pulled over.
This trend has been illustrated in California, as data provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety revealed that while the state had only 14,886 texting convictions in 2011, the region generated more than 460,000 convictions involving handheld use of cellphones.
According to the GHSA, recent enforcement projects that took place in specific local jurisdictions in Connecticut and New York have illustrated that bans on use of handheld phones can be enforced effectively and can lower the cellphone use of these drivers.
Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that in 2010 alone, more than 3,000 deaths resulted from distracted driving crashes.
The governors safety group also made its recommended impaired driving laws more stringent for the second year in a row. Driving while impaired means operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. Impaired driving is one of the crimes that generates the most fatalities, with more than 10,000 people dying from alcohol-impaired traffic accidents in 2010.
The GHSA has stated that it now supports per se laws, which are also referred to as zero tolerance laws. Under policies such as these, a person who is driving can be charged simply for having a drug or alcohol in their system. Thus far, 17 states have enacted laws such as these. The governors safety group is now recommending that states implement more stringent penalties for people who drive under the influence of multiple substances, or who operate a vehicle under the effect of both alcohol and drugs.
David Radke – Lee Trans Services