If driving under influence is serious enough to cost lives, so does using cell phones while driving. This is the message of a new awareness campaign launched by different organizations all over United States. Advocates say crashes do not only result in casualties but they also push auto insurance premium rates up.
But road safety organizations are not alone in their pursuit. Just last week, President Barack Obama signed a bill prohibiting federal employees from using their mobile phones while operating government vehicles. Reading and sending messages will be banned as well as encoding address into one’s GPS device. There is also a talk in Congress about withholding federal highway funds from states who do not outlaw use of cellular phones while driving.
Safe Road Alliance, one of the organizations supporting the cell phone ban campaign, says thousands of deaths and injuries each year are caused by mobile phone distraction. In Massachusetts, drivers are given incentives for hanging up their phone while driving. Volunteers stop cars at intersections and will reward them with $1 if they hang up upon request. The Insurance Information Institute (i.i.i), a New York-based industry group, explains that cell phones do not only take a person’s eye off the road. They also take away the focus of motorists which is very likely to result in an accident.
18 states took the lead in prevent mobile phone-caused accidents by banning texting among novice drivers. These are typically motorists below 18 years old while Missouri set the bar at 21. Other states are participating in the advocacy by encouraging businesses to implement internal policies such as banning the practice among their employees. AT&T took lead in the private sector announced its plan to launch an nationwide public service campaign aimed at decreasing use of mobile phones in cars. The company will start by preventing its 290,000 employees from engaging in the practice.
AT&T’s example is likely to be followed by many companies, analysts say. They explained that companies that often send their employees, as part of their business transactions, are more likely to impose the ban soon.
Meanwhile, industry specialists remind motorists that national crash rates will inevitably climb up if they continue the risky practice. They add that higher number of vehicular accidents gives insurers justification for increasing auto insurance premiums. Experts tell motorists that accidents can be avoided if they follow road safety guidelines. They likewise remind drivers that insurers give incentives for good driving, discount in premium rates among others.