Send police on a mission and they will catch a bucketload of people violating laws against cellphone use behind the wheel, but laws without enforcement seem to get ignored, reports the Washington Post. Those conclusions reflect the results of recent federally funded crackdowns in New York and Connecticut and a roadside survey in Southern California. The issue is being discussed today at a second national meeting of transportation experts, safety advocates and police convened by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Since LaHood’s first summit on the issue a year ago, the number of states that ban use of handheld cellphones while driving has risen to eight and the number that prohibit text messaging has increased to 30. Legislation in Congress would dangle additional funding to states that ban both. The Governors Highway Safety Association will consider whether to endorse a complete ban on cellphone use while driving when it begins its annual meeting Sunday. The group carries clout in the transportation community, and other groups could follow its lead. The National Safety Council estimates that cellphone use is responible for 1.4 milliion crashes annually, 28 percent of the national total. LaHood says that distracted driving “is as significant as drunk driving.”