Today, an announcement regarding cell phone use while driving was delivered by the Obama administration outlining the steps the federal government will take in conjunction with state governments to combat the problem.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the U.S. Government will fund pilot programs in the states of California and Delaware to determine whether or not such approaches are successful. The government tried two similar programs on a smaller scale last year, with decent measurements of success. The programs were tested in Syracuse, NY and Hartford, CT and saw reduced rates of distracted driving along with text messaging while behind the wheel.
Included in the pilot programs are $2.4 million in funding that will be allocated to produce similar results. The NTSB recently released a report calling for a national ban on operating motor vehicles while using a mobile phone. Despite not having the constitutional power to pass a law enacting such, the federal government does have the ability to withhold transportation funding for non-compliant states. The government has used tactics such as this in the past when it comes to implementing agendas related to transportation and public safety.
Just last week, Ohio became the 39th state to implement anti-cell phone laws in regards to text messaging and driving. There are 10 states that have outlawed the use of handheld devices. Other states have a hodge-podge of laws on the books, including allowed phone usage but no texting and hands-free only laws.
The National Safety Council says that approximately 1 in 4 automobile crashes are cell phone related. These incidents led to 5,500 fatalities and around 450,000 injuries in 2009. Other studies indicate that while using a handheld device, you are four times more likely to be in a wreck while operating an automobile.
Many automakers have made the process easier for authorities and consumers: hands-free units are increasingly appearing built into the car's infrastructure, making it less likely to be in an accident or in violation of the law.