This past Friday, police in the city of La Mesa took part in an anti-distracted driving operation made possible through funds supplied by the NHTSA and the California Office of Traffic Safety. For six hours, the Traffic Safety Enforcement Program was in effect, and as a result, 56 people found themselves on the receiving end of a ticket for a cellphone-related violation. The operation was chiefly aimed at those persons caught texting or talking on their phones at the wheel. Although initial fines begin at $20, that number can increase drastically once court costs are taken into account, and if the driver has already been pulled over before for a similar violation, they can expect to pay even more.
For more about the operation, follow this link.
The City Council of Lubbock, Texas, was set to make an initial vote on a texting and driving ban yesterday, but the matter was pulled by the Mayor at the last minute. But instead of pulling it because she’s not in favor of the measure, she instead would like to see the ban expanded to include GPS usage and police officers, as she believes they shouldn’t be exempt from the statute. She cites conversations with local residents for helping her to arrive at her current stance on the matter. If the ban is eventually passed as is, persons caught texting at the wheel would be on the receiving end of a $200 citation.
For more about the potential ban, click here.
Tomorrow, drivers in the city of Soledad might see an increase in the number of officers out on the road due to an anti-distracted driving patrol effort being enacted. Using funds made available from the California Office of Traffic Safety, officers will increase patrols around those areas of the city that tend to be the sight of an increased number of crashes. Officers will be placing especial attention on ticketing those drivers texting or talking on their cellphones. Ahead of the operation, the Soledad Police Department is warning drivers to put their cellphones out of reach prior to driving and to set up a message system telling acquaintances you will be in touch when you’re done driving.
Click here for more information about the operation.
As states make a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving, you’re seeing lawmakers pass ever-stricter measures on the practice. California is no different, with legislators recently looking into the possibility of banning handheld cellphones and raising the fines an offender could expect to pay.
But other states are attempting to affirm their ability to convict drivers who have been pulled over for committing a cellphone-based offense. A new report looks at the efforts of New Jersey lawmakers to do just that and also wonders about the future legal battle this could create.
Yesterday, the state’s Senate introduced a bill that would require drivers to hand their phones over to officers should a crash involving property damage, injury, or death take place. However, a legal professor at Seton Hall explains that such a move might be an overreach. As opposed to something like seeing a liquor bottle and confiscating that because of the suggestion that the driver is drunk, this measure, she explains, involves actually gaining access to a person’s information.
That professor believes that the United States Supreme Court may eventually have to weigh in on this measure or others like it that have been enacted throughout the country. Citizens interviewed for the story came down on both sides of the issue, with some worrying about the lack of privacy and others seeing a boost to safety.
A group of teenagers from Londonderry, New Hampshire has come up with a device that seeks to curtail distracted driving. Known as the SmartWheel, the technology utilizes a series of sensors placed along the average steering wheel. These sensors can actually determine if a person has only one hand on the wheel or in a position that suggests texting is taking place. If just one hand is placed on the wheel for upwards of three seconds, the wheel will make a noise and light up, essentially telling drivers to get their hand back on the wheel and their eyes on the road. The system has gained the approval of the President of the United States and the entrepreneurs from the TV show “Shark Tank.” The hope is that working with the featured parties on that show will allow the device to make it to the market by the end of 2013.
For more information, click here.
Last week, we brought you word of New York state’s recent approval of a bill that would make distracted driving laws affecting younger drivers far more stringent than they used to be. Now, a new editorial from the staff of the Bakersfield Californian is attempting to get citizens on this coast on board with similar legislation.
The worry is that laws haven’t changed enough to reflect the shifting paradigm of the roads. Texting and driving is increasingly thought to be as hazardous as drunk driving, and yet the editorial claims that distracted driving laws aren’t nearly as strict as those statutes which pertain to intoxication at the wheel.
Whereas drivers younger than 21 face a license suspension until that age if they’re caught being drunk at the wheel, texting offenses are the same across the board no matter the age of the driver: a $20 fine which rises to $159 once costs are taken into account.
There are a couple of solutions. California could take a page out of Alaska’s book and get incredibly tough on distracted drivers. In that state, a first offense might end up costing an individual a whopping $1,000 if they’re caught texting. Or, California could start assessing points to a driver’s license, a situation that could leave to a suspension and heightened insurance premiums.
Distracted driving doesn’t solely pertain to the realm of cellphone usage. Although texting or carrying on a conversation with someone on the other line can certainly take your eyes and mind away from the road, there are certain other activities that pose their own hazards. To avoid such distractions, consider some of the tips provided by AAA Michigan in a new report.
Many drivers have taken to using their phones as a navigation device. However, you can get so caught up in your GPS that you neglect the traffic in front of you. Know your path before you leave, and if you have to use a map function on your phone, considering pulling over first.
Rowdy kids can be a huge distraction, especially if their actions prompt you to repeatedly turn to the backseat. Have kids (and pets) adequately secured before you leave, and if you usually provide them with food or a DVD to watch on the trip, get such items ready prior to starting the car.
Other activities that might take your mind and eyes off the road include personal grooming and eating. To avoid these distractions, give yourself enough time in the morning to get ready and grab a healthy meal. Getting ten more minutes of sleep isn’t worth a potential collision.
We’ve written a lot about the impact that distracted driving can have on your ability to properly operate a motor vehicle. When your mind and eyes are placed someplace other than the road, it simply becomes impossible to react in time to sudden changes in the environment.
A new study backs up this idea. Put together by FocusDriven and the National Coalition for Safer Roads, the study attempted to deduce how many instances of an individual running a red light could be attributed to the driver being distracted. Researchers compiled their results by analyzing data from 118 red light cameras over the course of three months.
Among the red light violations recorded, 12% could arguably have occurred because the driver was distracted. When you extrapolate those findings outward, that would contribute to more than 7.3 million instances of distraction-related red light running across the country in 2012.
One other interesting facet of the research is the difference between areas with laws in place to combat distracted driving and those without. If a strict law agains the habit was in place, the rate of distraction-based red light violations dropped below 10% of overall violations, but when no such laws were on the books, the rate jumped above 16%. This demonstrates the impact that cellphone driving laws can have on the safety of a community.
New York is ratcheting up the penalties that younger drivers can expect to face if they’re caught texting at the wheel or otherwise using their cellphone in any regard. Both the Assembly and the Senate have voted to approve a law that would affect persons who have probationary or junior licenses or permits. If such persons get pulled over and are cited for texting and driving, they could find themselves with their licenses suspended for two months. If a subsequent violation then takes place within the next half year, that person would lose their license for six months (or two months if the individual has a junior license).
For more information, follow this link.
A proponent of a proposed texting and driving ban in the state of Texas is none too happy that the measure has failed to achieve passage this legislative session, and he’s taken to writing an editorial which lambasts the lawmaker whom he sees as responsible for the failure. The Midland House Member calls out the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee for not even bringing the matter up for a vote despite what he calls widespread support for a ban on texting at the wheel at the state level. He explains that the groundwork was laid to achieve bipartisan support and that the issue’s importance was highlighted by those affected by texting speaking about their own tragic experiences. Although the House member is saddened by the fact that a vote was never even held, he has pledged not to give up the fight.
Click here to read the full editorial.