State lawmakers across the USA are cracking down on distracted driving as research increasingly documents the perils of inattentiveness behind the wheel, reports USA Today. Colorado, Delaware, Maryland and Tennessee banned cell phone use by young drivers this year. A similar ban approved last week by Illinois legislators awaits the governor’s signature. This year, 37 states have debated new laws restricting drivers’ use of cell phones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The rush comes as research at the University of Minnesota and the University of Utah concludes that drivers talking on cell phones or fiddling with the car radio sometimes perform as poorly as drunken drivers. New electronic devices that allow drivers to surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail, get online directions or watch DVDs may create even more distractions, experts say. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that distracted driving is a factor in 25% of all traffic accidents reported to police. NHTSA says 8% of drivers are using cell phones at any moment during daylight.