Are bans on cellphone use while driving going to work?

Most people can acknowledge that distracted driving is directly or indirectly responsible for the majority of accidents that occur in Massachusetts. Today, cellphones, and more specifically, texting are among the most common types of distractions involved in motor vehicle accidents.

Unfortunately, people still don’t seem willing to put down their phones even though they admit that it affects their driving abilities. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Board has recommended that cellphone use while driving is banned in all states. But will a ban even work?

Currently, text messaging while driving is banned in 35 states and the District of Columbia. It will be up to state legislatures in the remaining states to decide whether cellphone use should be illegal. However, the federal government could influence this decision-making with federal funding initiatives.

Texting or emailing while driving was banned in Massachusetts in 2010, and can result in a $100 fine. In fact, the law even precludes drivers from using their cellphones for texting or emailing while stopped at traffic lights or stop signs.

However, in the past year, cellphone use nationally has increased by as much as 50 percent, The Washington Post reported. Many drivers simply appear to be unwilling to disconnect while they are behind the wheel, which is why The Post said automakers may have another solution to offer.

Apparently, Ford has already come up with a built-in service for vehicles that would allow drivers to use voice commands to make phone calls, change music and even send text messages and emails.

The Post reported that more automakers are expected to follow suit with the cutting-edge technology, aimed at allowing drivers to stay connected and safe simultaneously.

What do you think about this issue? Should drivers be forced to put down their cellphones while driving, or should automakers attempt to make cellphone use less distracting?

Source: The Washington Post, “NTSB pushes for nationwide ban on cellphone use for drivers,” Ashley Halsey III and Hayley Tsukayama, Dec. 14, 2011