Group Wants States to Curb Cell Phone Bans - - ABC13

Group Wants States to Curb Cell Phone Bans


Reporter: Danner Evans l Videographer: Brian Whitesell

Lynchburg, VA - We've all seen it. Those drivers veering into our lane, sitting through a green light, just plain not paying attention. When you drive up next to them, you notice that they're on a cell phone.

A national safety group is urging states to stop making laws banning them. The Governors Highway Safety Association is telling 41 states, including Virginia, that there just isn't enough evidence right now that banning cell phones from behind the wheel is keeping you safe out on the roads.

With two children Sarah Williamson lives behind the wheel of her car, so she has seen plenty distracted driving. One look inside her car and you'll see her cell phone is close by her too, but she said she takes using it very seriously.

"I will end a phone call if I feel like I'm in rough spot," Williamson explained.

But let's face it - not everyone does that. It's not only frustrating, it can be downright deadly.

Still the Governors Highway Safety Association wants states to put their cell phone bans on hold citing that we just don't know right now if they're effective. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report found no reduction in crashes after handhelds were banned in California, Connecticut, New York and Washington D.C.

Officer Ronnie Sitler with Lynchburg City Police said some of that could be true and some could be misleading because it's not always reported what the driver is doing.

"In all honestly it keeps your hands on the wheel but hands on are just part of the mental task of driving a car," Sitler said. "If you are mentally talking on the phone you're not paying attention to what's going on around you."

That may be the key to the whole problem - finding a law that deals with all forms of "distracted driving."

"Every single day somebody does something involved in a crash in the city and it's either cell phone, GPS, having a conversation with their children or something like that," Sitler said.

That's the reason some drivers, like Williamson, agree with the new push to hold off on cell phone bans.

"I feel like if people are on their phones whether it's holding it or just talking into some voice box in the car they are still going to be distracted," Williamson said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there's a lot of evidence that distracted driving is dangerous. More than 5,400 were killed, and 448,000 hurt in crashes involving all forms of distracted driving in 2009.

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