Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood commended Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for signing an anti-texting-while-driving bill into law for all drivers in his state. As the 28th state to pass a texting ban, Georgia has taken the country another step closer to a nationwide prohibition on texting while driving. The law also forbids cell phone use for young drivers with a provisional license.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed sample legislation that states can use as a starting point to craft measures to ban texting. The sample bill is patterned after President Barack Obama's October 1, 2009, Executive Order prohibiting federal employees from texting while operating government-owned vehicles and equipment. Last year, more than 200 distracted driving bills were under consideration by state legislatures, and the pace has increased this year.
Research compiled by NHTSA attributed an estimated 6,000 deaths and half-a-million injuries to distracted driving in 2008 alone. Recently, Secretary LaHood launched pilot programs in New York and Connecticut as part of a "Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other." campaign to study whether increased enforcement and public awareness can reduce distracted driving behavior.