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Safety council urges closer look at distracted driving

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has initiated a campaign to increase awareness among teens, parents, and the general public about the dangers of distracted driving. The council would like to see Texas and other states pass legislation to ban cell phone use entirely while driving, with allowable exceptions in the case of emergencies.

This action stems from an alarmingly increasing trend of vehicular accidents, involving teens, resulting in wrongful death, and suggesting cell phone usage may have played a role in these accidents. Suggestions differ greatly from hard evidence, however, and can be a challenge to prove. Some states have already enacted legislation to severely restrict, or ban, cell phone usage while driving. Some of these bans are applicable to the general public, while others target inexperienced drivers.

Investigating an automobile accident for an instance of distracted driving can be a difficult task. The evidence is subjective, unless the investigating officers seek objective evidence, such as cell phone records. Yet, doing so requires a subpoena, and most officers are reluctant to go through the bureaucratic red tape of securing a subpoena for something that amounts to a check box on a police report.

However, to parents who have lost their teenage children in fatal accidents that possibly involved distracted driving, it is more important to have answers. Regardless of whether their teen was the driver, or a passenger who was an innocent victim of wrongful death, most parents yearn for the truth as to the circumstances of these accidents. If the NTSB is successful in its endeavors, statistical data that more accurately reflects the nature of these accidents may be available to assist in educating the public and hopefully decreasing the instances of these accidents.

Source: CBS News, "Study: Distracted driving deaths underreported", May 07, 2013

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