Law pumps brakes on cellphone use

In order to decrease the number of driving accidents, legislation on mobile cellular usage has been proposed in various states.

Law enforcement officers in 22 states and Washington, D.C. have collected information at crash scenes regarding the role of mobile phones.

Approximately 243,294 accidents occurred last year because of distractions. Of these, 366 were due to cell phones, according to the Drivers Distraction Report from the State of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Florida is one of many states that have laws that restrict the use of mobile phones while driving.

New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. prohibit drivers from using hand-held mobile phones unless the usage of a hands-free device is used.

Statue FLS 316.304 states that in Florida cellular phone use is permitted as long as it provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sound to be heard with the other ear.

Although Florida does not prohibit the use of cell phones, students are worried that one day this law will be enacted.

Nancy Metayer, 20, a second year environmental science student from Fort Lauderdale said she feels that driving while on the phone is dangerous. But she still does not want Florida to enact a law to prohibit it.

“I see it from both perspectives [as in] how it does become dangerous,” Metayer said. “If you’re responsible enough to drive and talk you should be liable for any accident you may cause.”

Statistics from FDHSMV show that drivers in the age groups of 18-25 account for the largest percentage of driver distracted crashes. Approximately 66 percent of all crashes resulting from driver distraction occurred during daylight hours and 34 percent occurred during non-daylight hours.

States such as California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska and North Carolina prohibit the use of hand-held wireless devices by drivers under the age of 21.

Past studies show that lack of experience makes younger drivers less proficient with handling additional distractions while driving.

Even though some students don’t agree with the law, they think it should be implemented in order to decrease the number of accidents.

Eliana Green, 25, a fifth year cardiopulmonary student from Colombia, S.C. said she doesn’t like the idea of prohibiting cell phone use while driving, but she does agree.

“I feel it is right. A lot of accidents happen when people talk on the phone because people are not aware of what’s going on outside,” Green said.

The use of cell phones has increased over the last 20 years. It has been estimated that nearly 73 percent of drivers use their cell phone while driving, according to estimates from the Florida National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Talking on the phone while driving increases your chance of an accident up to four times.

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