Diverting your eyes for a split-second while driving can carry catastrophic consequences. Writing and sending a text can lead to distraction, life-altering, and deadly car accidents. The frequency of the problem has resulted in legislation throughout most of the country making texting while driving illegal.
Cell phones have many more uses than texting. One tap on the phone can provide directions to a destination with minimal dangers. Modern motor vehicles also have their touch screens in what is referred to as infotainment centers. Countless options exist. Where does the law come into play?
Legislation may not be keeping up with technical advancements
Simply put, laws are moving slower than technology advancements. They remain forbidden to hold or used on public roads. Once solely used for communication, devices have cameras, GPS navigation, browsers, game consoles, payment portals, and more. Because of the ongoing innovations, researchers believe that broadening is a better solution than a laundry list of drivers can and cannot do.
Three states have attempted to specify and streamline cell phone laws and acknowledge their countless uses, both safe and unsafe. Expanding laws in 2017 saw each state adding language for “acceptable cellphone interaction” being only hands-free systems that mandated minimal input.
While Oregon and Washington prohibit holding a cell phone, specifying that the ban applies to vehicles temporarily stopped due to traffic and other delays. California did not establish prohibitions applying to cars stopped. Holding and using became just holding to allow a driver a potential “out” for merely holding a cell phone.
Over the long term, statistics reveal that distracted driving remains a problem. Less restrictive laws have not made a difference. Accidents continue to grow due to smartphone use, resulting in severe and potentially life-ending accidents.