Federal restrictions could ban cell phone usage while driving

By Nicholas Guldin
October 15, 2009

The Obama administration has recently proposed its first federal restrictions against the use of cell phones while driving.

These decisions were made at a two day summit in Washington D.C. last Wednesday and Thursday. Attending the summit to help discuss and make these decisions were over 300 lawmakers, safety experts and industry representatives. Although these restrictions are only meant for federal employees, the government hopes to push states to create laws against cell phone use while driving as well.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that distracted drivers should feel like they are doing something wrong. The feelings should be similar to driving without a seatbelt or driving under the influence of alcohol.

“These new restrictions are a really good thing. I’ve seen people doing things from reading a newspaper to putting on makeup while driving. It’s downright dangerous,” Dr. Hedtke, chair of the political science department, said.

According to studies done at the University of Utah, deaths caused by distracted drivers have been rising since 2004. These studies also show that most of the accidents are caused by young drivers. Distracted driving can be compared to driving under the influence of alcohol. Both of these offenses delay the reaction time of the driver.

Since these new restrictions only affect federal employees, the people taking most of the heat are the truck drivers and city bus drivers. According to the Dallas Morning News, many truck drivers are extremely upset because they now cannot use their laptops on the road. Many truck drivers now must pull over to use their laptops to contact employers to discuss times for unloading and loading.

Now that federal laws are being put into place, state governments are being pressured to create laws as well. If the administration plans on endorsing the bill, states would be required to create laws banning texting while driving as well or they could risk the chance of losing 25 percent of their annual highway funds. LaHood made it clear at the summit that the federal government plans on being hard on those states who do not plan on going along with the actions of the federal government.

Sam Zeff, sophomore business management major, said “I think the state governments would be setting a positive example for young drivers by creating these laws that ban texting while driving.”

As more and more states submit to the pressure of the federal government all people who can operate a vehicle will be forced to follow these laws. Some teenagers, mothers, school bus drivers and business workers may see this as a terrible thing but freshman Kelly Catania disagrees.

“I had a bus driver in high school that used to talk on the phone all the time while driving us back and forth from school. It was terrible because she was responsible for all of us on the bus. It just seemed irresponsible,” Catania

According to the Los Angeles Times, talking on a cell phone while driving has been banned in seven states and texting while driving has been banned in 18 states. It’s only a matter of time until the whole country finds itself cellular device free”while operating their vehicles.

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Nicholas Guldin

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