Federal Government suggests guidelines for texting while driving laws

With nearly 6,000 deaths and more than half a million injured people in 2008 due to distracted driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a set a guidelines for states to create laws to stop the habit of texting while driving a motor vehicle.

The legislation was developed by NHTSA and industry advisers to help states who are looking to ban texting while driving.  It was based on the Department of Transportation rules from last year forbidding federal employees to send or receive text messages while driving a government-owned vehicle.

The sample law would give police officers the power to stop a vehicle and issue a citation to drivers who are caught texting while driving.  Violators would face a minimum fine of 75$ and could face a suspension of their driving privilege.  Any crash resulting in serious injury or death would be considered a felony.

Texting while driving, like talking on cell phones while driving, is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening practice,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement.  “This language, which we created with a variety of safety organizations, is another powerful tool in our arsenal to help the states combat this serious threat”

NHTSA studies show that young drivers under the age of 20 are the most vulnerable to the malpractice and that texting while driving impairs a driver in three different ways: visually, manually, and cognitively.

To this date, 19 states have officially banned texting while driving.

Source: CNN Money, February 22, 2010

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