LaHood calls for nationwide ban on cell phone conversations, texting while driving

(Jason Getz, AJC)

(Jason Getz, AJC)

(Updated 3:04 p.m.)

If it’s left up to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, no driver on U.S. roads would be allowed to talk or text on cell phones while behind the wheel.

LaHood on Thursday called on Congress to ban talking or texting while driving any vehicle on any road in the nation, according to a Reuters report.

LaHood told a group of doctors, advocates and government officials in San Antonio that the problem of accidents connected to cell phone use is a “national epidemic.”  The National Transportation Safety Administration reported 3,000 traffic deaths attributed to distracted driving last year, many blamed on cell phone use.

He said he was not too concerned about people who eat or apply makeup while driving because “not everyone does that,” Reuters reported.

“But everyone has a cell phone and too many of us think it is OK to talk on our phones while we are driving,” the secretary was quoted as saying.

LaHood has been pushing for the ban for several years. His office said he remains supportive of state efforts to address the issue. So far, 37 states plus the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving and 10 states plus D.C. have total bans on handheld phones while driving.

Georgia’s law banning texting while driving took effect July 1, 2010. According to the state Department of Driver Services, there had been more than 500 convictions for violations of the law as of mid-December.

Georgia Code 40-6-241.1 prohibits people under the age of 18 from “wireless communications” (cell phone conversations, texting, sending or reading emails, etc.) while operating a motor vehicle. Georgia Code 40-6-241.2 prohibits people 18 years old or older from “writing, sending or reading text based communication” while operating a motor vehicle.

Is it time for a federal ban on talking and texting while driving?

163 comments Add your comment

Tech '10

April 27th, 2012
11:17 am

I find it sad that we supposedly need a law to enforce what should be common sense.

Dyren Ducati

April 27th, 2012
11:18 am

If you can afford it, get a car with Bluetooth.

Sluggo

April 27th, 2012
11:19 am

Yes, Please.

Can it be enforced with real teeth? Most Georgia drivers ignore the law.

Chilly Willy

April 27th, 2012
11:19 am

NEVER HAPPEN!

Holden Magroyne

April 27th, 2012
11:23 am

You dont need a car with Bluetooth. Just buy one of those Bluetooth ear thingys for under $40! Also, most of the newer phones will voice read you emails and texts so you do not need to look at the screen. Both hands on the wheel people!!! And use those turn signals!!!!

Marilynn

April 27th, 2012
11:23 am

Unfortunately, government has to step in and regulate because we somehow have a culture of everyone is entitled to do what they want, when they want and to hell with anyone they kill, maim or emotionally torture in the process of taking a call in the car. I wish Scottie would beam all the cellphones to some unknown planet and we go back to the Green Acres way of phoning.

Motorcyclist

April 27th, 2012
11:23 am

Will the Gwinnett police write themselves tickets?
They still text and drive.

Greg from Marietta

April 27th, 2012
11:23 am

This law may be on the books but enforcement is a joke. I live down the street from a high school and you can stand in my front yard in the afternoon when school lets out and count the cars with the teen drivers talking on their cell phones as they go down the street. 4 out of 5 are driving with a cell phone stuck in their ear. But what do you expect when their parents do the exact same thing?

beebee

April 27th, 2012
11:29 am

sadly, it’s women that have made this a national epidemic. yes, some men talk on phones sometimes. but women NEVER SHUT UP!

Trixie

April 27th, 2012
11:29 am

Absolutely! and it should have the same punishment as a DUI! It’s just as dangerous!!

John

April 27th, 2012
11:32 am

Texting, yes. Talking, no. As long as I use hands free technology, it is no more distracting–infact, less distracting–to talk to someone on the phone while driving than to carry on a conversation with a passenger in the car.

richard

April 27th, 2012
11:32 am

We wouldn’t have to rebuild our roads if the people on the phones would get off them and keep moving. I see multiple idiot drivers not paying attention while talking on their phones daily.

richard

April 27th, 2012
11:34 am

John, when you are talking to a friend in teh car and something happens on the road the friend shuts up, on the phone not so much.

GBurdelll

April 27th, 2012
11:34 am

Bluetooth would be banned too…..it’s ALL phone use.

I say remove radios, dvd player, CB’s, GPS, and anything else that might “distract the driver”. Then require a 1 inch thick plexiglass cube around the drive so others in the car will not distract them. Oh, and remove the billboards and any signage not used for directions.

Bhorsoft

April 27th, 2012
11:36 am

I can always tell the cell phone users when I’m on the road because they drive like drunks. The only difference is the cell phone users have a phone to their ear (or are looking down while texting). I’d love to see a ban with teeth at a national level, but the CTIA is a very powerful lobby. It will never happen. After all, we have the best government money can buy.

Of course, if we all took personal responsibility seriously, we wouldn’t need such regulation and legislation…. Sigh.

gtcitizen

April 27th, 2012
11:41 am

What about individuals whose livelihoods depend on the ability to use a cell phone responsibly while driving (truck drivers, self-employed business-owners, etc) to and from job-sites or in route to service calls? It’s easy to make a blanket statement to prevent foolish irresponsibility, but laws like this would cause serious implications for certain professions whose businesses depend on the ability to communicate and be on the road most of the time. I am completely supportive of reducing crashes due to irresponsible behavior, but common sense should be applied as well. As a side note, I disagree with a federal ban and think that local and state governments should make those decisions.

Benny

April 27th, 2012
11:42 am

Unfortunately, when you have narcissitic people that are above the law what good are laws? Drive the interstate (or any other road) and watch the complete disdain for common sense or courtesy coupled with a complete disregard for laws covering driving. I completely agree with a complete ban but it will be ignored.

Bill

April 27th, 2012
11:43 am

Most Atlanta drivers don’t understand the need to concentrate on traffic when they are driving. DUI in south Atlanta is epidemic and not enforced. And what about the firearms going off on certain dates? APD would you please enforce this to protect my life and property? [no]

Ueeediot

April 27th, 2012
11:43 am

Ive seen Gwinnett Police texting, eating, and working off their ***dashboard mounted LAPTOP***

Its also funny to me when I see a certain officer stop in the QT and purchase his cigs and beer…

Alexander Bell

April 27th, 2012
11:43 am

I fully support the idea, but the genie is out of the bottle. And besides, it will just be one more law associated with driving that will never be enforced.

PAC

April 27th, 2012
11:44 am

What’s next you talk to the person in car or the backseat? No music or drinking (sodas). I have no problem with requiring a hands free device, but a complete band is nonsense.

bigdawg

April 27th, 2012
11:45 am

But it is ok to drive with your damn dog in your lap. Stupid.

Derwood

April 27th, 2012
11:46 am

AUGH, ONCE AGAIN OUR GOVERNING BODIES SHOW THEIR STUPIDITY. THIS IS ABOUT AS FUNNY AS IS OUR CONGRESSMEN QUESTIONING THE SECRET SERVICE ABOUT GOING WITH PROSTITUTES. ANYONE EVER HEARD THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK? I DON’T THINK A CONGRESSMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO OPEN THEIR MOUTH.YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE STUPIDITY, WILL OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS EVER LEARN?

Wilbur

April 27th, 2012
11:48 am

As long as I can still load my gun while driving, I’m OK with it.

bob

April 27th, 2012
11:49 am

JUST STAY OUT OF THE LEFT LANE IF YOU’RE NOT PASSING ANYONE!!

dpointer

April 27th, 2012
11:52 am

Yes, it should be against the law! Half the people driving are talking on the damn phone. And you can tell it long before you see the driver with the phone up to their ear. They obviously can’t drive and talk at the same time. In my opinion, some of them are as bad as a drunk driver. Those who say it doesn’t affect their driving are liars. Unfortunately it’s some other innocent person that will pay the price.

ugaprof

April 27th, 2012
11:54 am

Yes, yes, yes. You can’t legislate intelligence, but you can at least have the penalties ready for people who behave stupidly. There should be exemptions, of course, for certain kinds of headsets and microphones that don’t require constantly holding something to your ear.

Jerome

April 27th, 2012
11:54 am

Sometimes I talk to myself. So if this law takes affect will I be pulled over? Another way for BIG BROTHER to interfere in our lives.

ugaprof

April 27th, 2012
11:55 am

What about cell-phone pedestrians? Drive through the UGA campus and dodge the people with cell phones to their ears, who seemingly can’t see the oncoming cars. I’ve even seen them put up their hand to block the view of an approaching car, as if what I can’t see can’t hit me!

bigred

April 27th, 2012
11:58 am

I agree texing and talking while driving has gotten out of hand but do we need the government to step into another area of our lives? No we do not. But unfortunately, there are those that will not hang up and drive, even if you pass a law. Another case of the minority(the few, not a race thing) making life harder on those who do try to do the right thing. And they will kill innocent people and never even get a scratch if left to their own devices. Ron White says it best. You can’t FIX STUPID!

Lary C.

April 27th, 2012
11:58 am

Yes cellphone use while driving should be banned.

Pamela

April 27th, 2012
11:58 am

I for one hope and pray this law pass. Lawmakers are ALWAYS trying to be very strict on young people (16-21) regarding use of cell phones etc…while they are driving, however every single day when I’m on the road I see a LOT of people that are well over the age of 21 talking on their cell phones, texting and driving at the same time and they always drive very wreckless. They will either go extremely slow in the passing and all the other lanes, swerve their car, cut you off in traffic without using a signal light and all sorts of things. Too many people have perished because of careless people! I pray this law pass and the local authorities ticket people who does these things.

Michele

April 27th, 2012
11:59 am

Go for it! This law is urgently needed to get the idiots where it hurts, in the pocketbook. I also think it should be a law that insurance will not pay in the case of an accident caused by the driver on the phone. I am tired of being run off the road or having to take defensive action on a daily basis because of idiots who can’t live without constant contact with someone else. Ban the phone!

Tom

April 27th, 2012
12:00 pm

As of June 1, ALL cell phone voice/text use while driving is banned in Chapel Hill, NC. Yes, that even includes Bluetooth and other hands-free technologies.

TalkativeMom

April 27th, 2012
12:03 pm

This is funny! What is this world coming too? I’ve been talking and driving for years and have never had a wreck so punish all for a few?? Whatever! Nobody will follow this bogus law if it is passed so who cares if it passes or not.

jrev

April 27th, 2012
12:07 pm

I’d rather see people ticketed $150+ for not using turn signals. I’ll never understand why people think there is no need to let other drivers know where you are planning to go. I think only about 25% of people even use them. If I were a police officer, I would spend all day giving out tickets to people who fail to use a turn signal. Sometimes I wonder if turn signals are an “option” when you buy a car because they are used so infrequently.

Alana

April 27th, 2012
12:08 pm

PLEASE!!!! I am so tired of all the mornic drivers who cannot focus on the road b/c of their gossiping!!! And seriously GA, only 500 convictions for texting & driving since 7/10???????? I SEE 500 ON THE WAY TO THE OFFICE!!!! Your phone conversation & texts can wait 20 mins. Remember when we didn’t have the option of cell phones??? Somehow we made it then, GET OFF THE PHONE AND DRIVE!!!!!!!

Joe

April 27th, 2012
12:09 pm

Will do no good until penalties are equal to that of DUI – they are equally as dangerous, but you get a slap on the wrist if caught texting.

Mike

April 27th, 2012
12:10 pm

“He said he was not too concerned about people who eat or apply makeup while driving because ‘not everyone does that.’”

Apparently Mr. LaHood is from a planet where nutrition is absorbed from the air. Everybody eats. And a percentage of people who eat do it in their car while driving. And a percentage of people who eat while driving are distracted and drive poorly and cause accidents.

In some jurisdictions that have banned texting while driving, accidents have gone up – because people who still feel the need to text are having to hide their phones so no one can see them doing it, taking their eyes off the road.

Nancy

April 27th, 2012
12:10 pm

To Talkative Mom: Ever look behind you? Kinda like Mr. Magoo, driving down the road with wrecks in his wake and hs never sees them!

Scoots Randolph

April 27th, 2012
12:11 pm

Almost got hit while on my scooter two days ago. The culprit: soccer mom on her cell phone in a school zone (!) who didn’t bother to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and just plowed right ahead. Someone like me will die because the driver *has* to talk. And it’s not gender-restricted; I see everyone on their phones. Unless you’re a doctor giving life-saving instructions over the phone to someone, is there any need for you to be talking, texting, or browsing while you drive? Let’s go one step further and ban cell phones altogether and get some humanity back.

Olivia

April 27th, 2012
12:20 pm

My daughter, for her school research project, sat in an intersections at distinct times of day for 4 weeks and during business days only. She collected data on people talking or potentially texting while drinving. In her data. It is unbeleavable the frequency of people breaking the law (!!!). Most “infractors” were women (sic !!) and “aparently” young drivers. For her presentation she even collected cartoons on the issue and the one who puzzeled her and, I should confess, me, the most for being ironic and sadly true was one of AJC (see the link).

http://0.tqn.com/d/politicalhumor/1/7/P/r/2/texting-while-driving.jpg

Duh.

April 27th, 2012
12:25 pm

Not enforceable.

Duh.

April 27th, 2012
12:26 pm

Police should be investigating real crime.

Rich

April 27th, 2012
12:26 pm

I am not sure that a law will change behavior. Also, rules of the road are the states responsibility. Check out the 10 amendment.

Ga Native

April 27th, 2012
12:28 pm

Most of the people in Georgia cannot drive anyway and most are transplants. Forget the phones. The driver’s test should be A LOT harder! It should include highway driving, yielding to traffic and staying in the right lane if you are OBVIOUSLY going slower than everyone else. It should also include the obstacle of driving up on a Floridiot and figuring out what to do to pass them as they are typically going 20 in a 45 or 50 in a 70. Those idiots need banned, also. You’re not at the beach anymore!

Pearl

April 27th, 2012
12:29 pm

pass all the laws you want….if they are not enforced until somebody dies in a crash then it’s useless….

Just curious

April 27th, 2012
12:30 pm

Does Mr. Lahood mean that because not everybody kills people, that would be a reason not to address issues regarding those laws? Or does he mean that if it makes good political and media “hay”, I’m happy to address the issue so long as it’s not complicated by any difficult factual issues? Whatever!

Common Since!

April 27th, 2012
12:30 pm

Leave cops out of it! Every cry baby says “but the cops do it”! SHUT UP! People who talk/text and drive are stupid! I rather you go kill yourself than hit a car full of people cause you to stupid to know you shouldnt talk/text and drive! Had a guy hit me last year cause he was to busy on his phone. The wreck put my kid in the hospital. I jumped out of my truck, pulled him out of his car and beat the crap out of him. The cops did not charge me with jack! If your talking/texting you deserve to get in a wreck!

Barry

April 27th, 2012
12:31 pm

Cell phone usage while driving utilizing hands free technology appears to be ok, I don’t think it is any more distracting than dealing with the radio and/or cds, etc. while driving.