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States Roll on with Mobile Device Restrictions

Despite the outcry over a recent proposal from the National Transportation Safety Board to ban all cellphone use while driving - including the use of hands-free devices - many states continue to enact their own restrictions.

While an overall ban on cell phone usage while driving does not seem imminent, the trend towards more and more restrictions at the state and local levels appears to be growing.

HUB International recommends that you check the laws in your state. Texting while driving is banned in 35 states while cell phone use is banned for novice drivers in more than half of the states. (For a table showing current state laws regarding cell phone usage, go to

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention add that the proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of a fatal crash has increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009.

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are the facts:
  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and an additional 448,000 were injured on U.S. roadways in motor vehicle crashes reported to have involved distracted driving.
  • Cellphone use was reported as the distraction in accidents in which 995 (or 18 percent) of that number were killed.
  • Of those injured, 24,000 (or 5 percent) involved reports of cellphone use as the distraction.

The age group with the highest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group.

Of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes, 30- to 39-year-olds had the highest proportion of cellphone involvement.

For yourself, resolve to give the road your full attention the next time you drive. If necessary, pull over at a rest area, exit ramp or parking lot to make or return a call. If the urge to answer a call is just too tempting, turn your phone off or put it on silent until your reach your destination.

Avoid other distractions as well. Make sure children are buckled in seat belts or car seats and have toys, books or games within easy reach. If you need to drink or eat, stop at a rest area or make sure drinks or snacks are open and easily available before you start out.

The debate over the relative safety of hands-free calling devices is far from over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is set to release a study later this year evaluating the level of risk when drivers use hand-held versus hands-free devices.