Despite state laws, texting drivers on the increase

The National Highway Transportation Safety Board just released the results of study which attempted to do a “snapshot” of where the nation is with distracted driving. What they found may surprise; With all the laws and bans on hand-held cell phones and the prohibition of texting while driving, the practice is going up, especially with drivers between the ages of 21 and 24.

The study revealed that 50% of drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 admit to e-mailing or texting while driving.

The practice of texting, emailing or surfing the web is so ubiquitous that 1 in 100 car drivers are doing at any one time.

The NHTSA calls Distracted Driving an “Epidemic” and they say that almost 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2009.

According to Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Everyone thinks he or she is an above average driver.” 50% of drivers say that making a cell phone call does not affect their driving and 25% said that texting or e-mailing while driving did not affect their driving performance.

Drivers are conflicted about cell phone usage while driving, however. Respondents to the NHTSA were supportive of cell phone bans, but in practice, they just don’t apply them to themselves. 71% of those surveyed said they will accept incoming calls while driving and 41% said they will place outgoing calls while driving.

Two pilot projects in Syracuse, NY and Hartford, CN, have reduced distracted by using a two-prong approach: writing more tickets and waging an aggressive public education campaign. During these two pilot projects, hand-held cell phone and texting decreased by approximately 30%.

Washington state has two laws related to distracted driving: RCW 46.61.667 USING A WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE WHILE DRIVING and RCW 46.61.668 SENDING, READING, OR WRITING A TEXT MESSAGE WHILE DRIVING.

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