For advocates wanting the outright ban of cellphone use while driving, a tragic story out of Hartford, Connecticut is unfortunate ammo for the cause.
According to the AP, 44-year-old Kenneth Dorsey was killed in March after his was struck while jogging. The person in the car was not identified by name, but we do know that the driver was a 16-year-old girl in an SUV. Now, the rising trend of “distracted driving” is being blamed in the fatal accident.
The girl was apparently using her cellphone seconds before the accident occurred. Police suggest that they have evidence that she was “using the keypad” of her device right before striking Dorsey. Of course, this would suggest texting, Facebooking or something similar as opposed to just talking while driving. The driver has officially been charged with negligent homicide and using a handheld telephone while driving.
In Connecticut, there is currently an outright ban on handheld cellphone use while driving. That means anything – talking, texting, checking email, you name it. Connecticut is only one of ten states in the U.S. with such a law. When it comes to texting, 38 states have adopted an outright ban. Connecticut is also one of 31 states that prohibit driver under the age of 18 from even using a hands-free device.
This accident makes news just a couple of weeks after U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called for a nationwide ban on cellphone use while driving. He called distracted driving “a dangerous epidemic,” saying:
“Everyone has a cell phone and too many of us think it is OK to talk on our phones while we are driving,”
He’s not the only one. In December, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a similar nationwide ban. The NTSB quoted the statistic that over 3,000 highway deaths last year were attributed to distracted driving.
“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life,” NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”
Although some are ardently supporting such proposals, some feel that such a ban is tantamount to government intrusion. According to market research, the NTSB’s initiative failed to find public support.
Earlier this week, we told you about an AT&T study that showed 43% of teens admitting to texting and driving. That was even with 97% admitting that the activity is dangerous. Obviously, distracted driving is a serious issue – there’s just some debate on how to tackle it, from a law enforcement perspective. In terrible cases like the death of Mr. Dorsey, all we can do is feel for his friends and family.