California Cell Phone Ban Rejected

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCChicago.com

    Don't worry, distracted drivers, they won't take away your cellphones.

    Despite calls from leading safety advocates for a ban on using cellphones while driving,  the Governors Highway Safety Association has nixed a California plan to implement such a measure. The GHSA wasn't convinced that a ban could be enforced and plans to gather more data before acting. About 5,500 people died in 2009 due to distracted driving, primarily caused by cellphone usage.

    Proponents of the ban include the National Safety Council and US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who compared cell phone use to an addiction.

    Pilot programs to enforce such a ban were conducted in Syracuse and Hartford this summer, with thousands of citations issued. But a California study showed that a crackdown had little impact on driver behavior.

    The move came just two days after Richmond's chief of police was rear-ended by a driver who was tinkering with a phone. Incredibly, the driver was not cited and was allowed to drive away.

    Distracted driving is a difficult issue to tackle, since most drivers acknowledge that driving with a phone is dangerous but continue to do so. If regulators are unable to prohibit the use of phones, they may eventually consider the ban from another angle: prohibiting the use of cars.