State Highway Safety Officials: Hang Up and Drive

January 12, 2009

Statement for Attribution to Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Governors Highway Safety Association applauds 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.

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. Numerous studies have concluded that hands-free phone use does not mitigate crash risk. In a study released last year by Carnegie Mellon University, researcher Marcel Just stated 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. Just last month, another study from the University of Utah reaffirmed 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. 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 state 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 funds a media campaign to alert the public to the dangers of distracted driving. The federal government also should continue funding research about distracted driving and examine the effectiveness of laws and other countermeasures. The Association appreciates the federal leadership on this issue.
  • The private sector takes a leadership role. As such, employers should prohibit text messaging and the use of cell phones and other electronic devices when driving except in emergency situations.

A detailed chart listing state-by-state cell phone laws is located online at http://ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html.

GHSA’s policy position on distracted driving is located online at http://ghsa.org/html/issues/dist.driv.policy.html.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.

SOURCE Governors Highway Safety Association

Source: newswire

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