Federal insurance regulators and members of the Congress are readying plans to introduce a new legislation that would limit the use of electronic devices such as cell phones while driving. Citing independent studies conducted by private companies, Senator Chuck Schumer introduced the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Driver’s (ALERT) Act in order to reduce the cases of accidents caused by driver distraction.
The said bill is now undergoing discussion in the Congress and is expected to pass amidst much debate. If passed, the legislation would require state governments to enact provisions that would ban the use of mobile phones and handheld devices while driving. According to safety and auto insurance industry experts, driver distraction is one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities in the U.S. In fact, some 6,000 motorists lost their lives last year alone due to driver distraction-related car crashes. Another half a million drivers suffered injuries of varying degrees as a result of distracted driving.
Insurance analysts say that once the Alert Act is passed, the federal government can forfeit 25 percent of a state’s highway funding if it fails to enact laws curbing the use of cell phones while driving. The bill gives state governments two years to comply with the Alert Act before the federal government steps in.
Recent studies conducted by government and insurance industry researchers have found that distracted driving is the culprit in 80 percent of all car crashes. It is also believed to be the root cause of 65 percent of all near-accidents. The alarming figures have prompted many legislators and lawmakers to consider developing new laws that will eliminate the use of electronic devices blamed for many mishaps.
Some sources from the insurance industry claim that the prevalence of electronic devices inside the vehicles is to blame for the increasing numbers of distracted drivers. For instance, many car manufacturers are adding on newer equipment like navigation devices and much more, further adding to the workload drivers have to deal with while on the road. Experts say that with more devices to control, motorists may have a hard time concentrating on driving, resulting in loss of control and eventually, accidents.
At present, 14 states have laws that prohibit the operation of cell phones and similar devices while the vehicle is moving. An additional 11 states have modified existing provisions to comply with federal regulations. Auto insurance industry representatives say that with a texting ban in place across the U.S., car owners can expect to see lower insurance rates.