October 30, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Will Utah law banning teen cell phone use reduce car accidents?
Drivers in Utah expect challenging driving conditions like inclement weather, but they aren't always prepared for dangers like distracted drivers. The sometimes deadly consequences of using a phone to text or send e-mails while driving
have already prompted a state law against these activities. Now, Utah has taken another step toward protecting motorists and passengers in Salt Lake County and elsewhere from unsafe drivers.
Teens given graduated license-style restrictions
The new law, which was passed in May, bans teenagers from cell phone use while driving, with the exception of making a phone call in emergency conditions or communicating with parents or guardians. Similar age-specific bans on cell phone use have already been passed in 35 other states, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
State Representative Lee Perry explained to the Tribune that banning non-essential cell phone use follows the spirit of graduated license programs, which gradually give teens full driving privileges. In these programs, activities like driving with passengers or driving at late hours are restricted until teens have more driving experience. The hope is that the cell phone ban will help teenagers develop enduring responsible habits, rather than following the example of their parents, for whom talking on the phone while driving is legal.
Targeting the distracted driving habits of teenagers makes sense from a statistical standpoint, as research has shown that distracted driving is more prevalent among young people. Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the following for accidents in 2011:
-The proportion of teenagers whose fatal crash involving distracted driving behaviors was higher than the proportion of drivers in other age groups.
-Of the teenagers involved in fatal distracted driving accidents, 21 percent were using cell phones, which is higher than the percentage for distracted drivers in other age groups.
-Distracted driving crashes involving cell phone use hurt an estimated 21,000 people.
-In distracted driving crashes, 85 percent of the fatalities involved a motorcylist or passenger
Limiting cell phone use for teens makes sense given that they are the least experienced drivers, they are more inclined to drive distracted, and they will likely continue to use driving behaviors that they learn now. However, this new law may not be enough to guarantee fewer distracted driving accidents in Utah.
Distracted driving laws have limited effects
Laws against distracted driving do not always correlate with a decrease in distracted driving accidents. In 2010, the Highway Loss Data Institute reported that texting bans in four states did not cause a substantial change in crash rates. Another study released the same year by the HLDI found that laws banning hand-held cell phone use did not reduce crashes either.
This doesn't mean that distracted driving laws are pointless or illogical. There is value in sending a public message and trying to foster smart driving habits in teenagers. However, it's important for Utah drivers to stay vigilant instead of feeling completely safe because of laws that ban dangerous driving behaviors.
Anyone who has been in an accident caused by a distracted driver should talk with an attorney about receiving appropriate compensation.
Article provided by Eisenberg Gilchrist & Cutt
Visit us at www.eisenbergandgilchrist.com