Fines don?t deter phone use

By By Alicia Williams

By Alicia Williams

Five states8212;California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington8212;have enacted handheld cell phone bans on drivers as an attempt to curb cell phone use while driving. Five states have also passed text messaging bans.

Because so many people in the United States use cell phones, it is only a matter of time before some justify using them while driving.
A study in January 2007 by Nationwide Mutual Insurance confirms this. Out of 1,200 drivers surveyed, 73 percent of them talked on the phone while driving.

The ability to multitask is a gift. The trouble is, some individuals believe their gift prevents them from being a statistic.

In the Finger Lake region of New York, on June 28, 2007, a 17-year-old, Bailey Goodman, swerved her sport utility vehicle into oncoming traffic and hit a truck head-on. Goodman and her four passengers, all recent high school graduates, were killed instantly. She had received a text message about 30 seconds before the accident occurred and her cell phone was in use.

This horrific accident occurred even though New York has a law, effective since December 2001, prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones while driving. The Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225c only cites violators with a $100 ticket. This minimal fine is not a strong deterrent.

Talking or texting on a cell phone is the one of the most distracting things you can intentionally do while operating a vehicle. A 2006 study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that 80 percent of all crashes were due to driver inattention within three seconds of the impact, and the use of a cell phone was the highest cause of distraction.

Although a law prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving is the go-to suggestion, that isn’t the solution. Drivers don’t need a law with a punishment to comprehend the fact that using a cell phone while driving is not safe or appropriate. The looming consequence of getting in a wreck while talking on a cell phone is much worse than a $100 ticket, and even that doesn’t stop it from happening. They just need to recognize they don’t need to be available every second of their lives, and sometimes it’s OK to ignore the call or shut off the phone.

Next time the compulsive desire to talk while driving hits you, ask yourself if you or your cell phone is in control.

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Willus Branham

Alicia Williams