The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Governors Highway Safety Assn. Backs Cell Phone Ban for New Drivers

January 21, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Governors Highway Safety Association released a statement applauding the National Safety Council (NSC) for taking a strong stand against cell phone use while driving.

"The NSC has a long history of safety advocacy, and GHSA looks forward to working with the NSC to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving," said Vernon F. Betkey Jr., chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

"While the effectiveness of banning cell phone use is subject to debate, what is not debatable is that using any type of cell phone is distracting to drivers," Betkey said. "Numerous studies have concluded that hands-free phone use does not mitigate crash risk."

Betkey cited a study released by Carnegie Mellon University, in which researcher Marcel Just found that listening to a cell phone while driving can reduce by 37 percent the amount of brain activity associated with driving. This can cause drivers to weave out of their lane, based on the performance of subjects using a driving simulator. Another new study from the University of Utah also concluded that hands-free phones are as distracting as handheld models.

"While GHSA does not support a legislative ban on all cell phone use for all drivers, the association continues to support a 'no-use' message when it comes to cell phones and driving," Betkey said.

Betkey said that GHSA specifically recommends that:

-- States ban all non-emergency cell phone use/text messaging for new drivers as well as school bus drivers. Presently, only 17 states and the District of Columbia have enacted these laws.

-- States include a category for cell phone/electronic equipment distraction on crash investigation forms. Currently, 29 states collect this information.

-- The federal government begin funding a media campaign to alert the public to the dangers of distracted driving.

-- The federal government continue funding research about distracted driving and examine the effectiveness of laws and other countermeasures.

-- The private sector take a leadership role, with employers prohibiting text messaging and the use of cell phones and other electronic devices when driving except in emergency situations.

To view a detailed chart listing state-by-state cell phone laws, click here.


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