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By the Book: Put the phone down

New regulations in the United States sees a total ban on mobile phone use while driving.



There are few drivers who haven’t heard the ping of a new message on their mobile phone and, while on a familiar or docile looking stretch of road, grabbed the handset, thumbed the relevant key and, at 60kmh, looked down to read what has just been sent. Unfortunately, as far as US lawmakers are concerned, that’s exactly the problem.

The country’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has claimed that in 2009 “distracted driving” was to blame for as many as 5,500 fatalities and half a million injuries. With 33,800 deaths on the roads in total in 2009, the car is one of the country’s deadliest weapons, so it’s hardly controversial to demand those behind the wheel pay attention at all times. But the lesson is especially relevant to those in control of heavy-goods vehicles, where relieving the boredom might be a constant temptation for their drivers – and, more importantly, where the size and nature of their loads could cause untold damage should they leave the road.

As a result, a new law recently introduced by US Transport Secretary Ray Lahood has come into effect that bans commercial bus and truck drivers from texting and driving, while train operators can no longer legally use cell phones or other electronic devices from the driver's seat. This is conjunction to 1,600 logistics and transport companies instituting their own bans, which has already covered 10.5 million drivers.

Pointing to statistics published by The Department of Transportation, the new laws are starting to have an affect. In Hartford, Connecticut 5,000 talking or texting drivers have been caught, with Syracuse, New York police issuing a similar number. The enforcement is also pretty strong, too, with texting while driving already down 68 per cent in Hartford. As one police officer said about the perils of proof: “We’re not going to encourage our officers to get into roadside arguments. If we can establish, within reasonable grounds, they may be cited.”

The measure isn’t restricted to the US, though. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon already issued a global ban on texting while driving for all UN employees. “Texting while driving kills,” he said. “In some countries up to 90 per cent of the people use cellphones while driving.”


The Philippines is also seeking a ban as World Health Organisation statistics have suggested that by 2030, traffic accidents will be the fifth biggest killer on the plant, overtaking AIDS, diabetes and even cancer. And if you’re reading this on a Blackberry, we just hope you’re stationary.



Read more regulations from past issues:-

1.    New Europe Transport and Haulage Rules

2.    New Regulations Set to Ease Ash Crisis

3. Navigating the Iranian Sanctions



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