The recently concluded Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC has turned up a few key points of special interest to states like Indiana, that still don’t have anti-distracted driving policies in place. The points to take home from the summit were:
• Laws do work, and states must implement laws to ban the use of handheld cell phones and text messaging devices for all drivers
• There must be strict enforcement of these laws, and strong penalties for violators.
• There must also be better use of technologies to force motorists to stop using their cell phones while driving
As Indiana auto accident lawyers, we support a complete ban on texting for all drivers. Our current laws only ban texting while driving for novice drivers below the age of 18. Banning texting while driving for all motorists, however, would only be the tip of the iceberg. We need strong laws to prevent drivers from using cell phones altogether. However, we can’t stop merely at legislation. Strong penalties are needed to give spine to any legislation, and strict enforcement will be necessary.
At last month’s Distracted Driving Summit, there was also plenty of attention on the kind of technology that can be used to prevent motorists from using cell phones at the wheel. Currently, 38 states and the District of Colombia ban all drivers from texting while driving, and these states have seen mixed results from the bans. This indicates that more needs to be done, and private entrepreneurs are jumping in to offer high-tech systems that block a cell phone’s ability to receive and send text messages while the car is in motion.
One company offers a software system that automatically disables calls and texting functions on a Blackberry when a motorist gets into a car. The system is called MobileSafer, and earlier, it used GPS systems to determine when the car was in motion to block the texting function. However, the problem with that system was that it would also disable texting functions for cell phones of passengers in the car. The system has now been updated using Bluetooth technology to determine that the user of the cell phone is actually driving the vehicle. The company that manufactures MobileSafer is also now turning its attention to similar systems for Android-based phones.
It is fair to say that efforts against distracted driving have only just begun. While Indiana takes its time to pass a ban on texting while driving for all motorists, you can take small steps towards safety by using software that blocks your ability to make cell phone calls or send and receive text messages while you’re driving. These technologies are also ideal for parents of teen motorists, some of the biggest consumers of cell phone and Smartphone technologies.