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California and Washington Ban Truckers from Talking on Cell Phones

Garcia & Artigliere

Unlike too many states, California is stepping up its efforts to protect motorists from distracted truck drivers in order to cut down on truck accidents.

As of June 30, 2011, truckers in California are now required – as are all motor vehicle drivers – to follow a 2008 law requiring motorists to use hands-free communication devices.

California motorists have been banned from using hand-held devices since 2009. Politics gave California truckers a two-year reprieve.

According to a study done by Virginia Tech and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number one source of driver inattention is cell phone use. This translates into 1 out of 4 accidents being caused by “cell phone driving.”

Washington also banned hand-held devices in 2008. They did not exempt truckers in Washington from the law.

Recently proposed federal legislation would require all states to collect data on cell phone and electronic equipment distraction on police accident report forms.

Many states continue to ignore data collection or hard statistics regarding the use of cell phones while driving.

Florida has no cell phone laws at all. It has even gone so far as to prohibit Florida cities, counties, and other localities from instituting any distracted driving laws.

Truck drivers and motorists in Arizona also are permitted to use hand-held cell phones. Arizona only bans school bus drivers from using hand-held devices, and that’s when children are present.

If more states were to follow the lead of California, and Washington it could make a significant difference in the number of people killed or maimed in truck accidents today.

The danger of distracted driving, which appears in 25 percent of all police crash reports, increases when truckers are the distracted drivers. And with truck drivers four times more likely to crash when using a hand-held cell phone, there needs to be more state and federal regulation protecting motorists.


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