We Can't Quit

It appears we simply won't give up our phones.

Red-light cameras have been a gold mine for many jurisdictions, but the money to be made from cell phone violations is exponentially higher. If you haven't received one of these tickets, pay attention: 27 states have primary enforcement texting bans in place or will start primary enforcement later this year, and it is illegal to talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Maryland joins that crowd Oct. 1 and Delaware in January 2011, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute chart of cell phone laws (http://www.iihs.org/laws/cellphonelaws.aspx).

It appears we simply won't give up our phones. On June 30, Commissioner Joe Farrow of the California Highway Patrol noted the primary enforcement law in California had taken effect two years earlier, on July 1, 2008. He seemed surprised so many people were disobeying it.

CHP officers during those two years had issued more than 244,000 citations to drivers who violated the hands-free law, Farrow said. California fines violators a minimum of $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense. "Many people were accustomed to using cell phones while driving before the law took effect, and it may be difficult for some people to change this practice," he said. "However, we all need to try hard to obey this law since driving is a complex task requiring a motorist's full attention. Even a moment of inattention can have disastrous consequences for a driver and those around them." He said more than 1,200 collisions had occurred during the two-year period where a contributing factor was inattention by the driver because of cell phone usage, with 16 deaths and more than 850 people injured in those wrecks.

June 30 also was the date of the funeral of Philip Ortiz, the fourth CHP officer to die in the line of duty from a traffic accident in June 2010 alone.

"Too many motorists have been injured or died because of inattention while driving," Farrow said. "Drivers need to put down the phone and focus on driving. Otherwise, it may cost you your life or the life of your loved ones."

I hope we're paying attention, but I doubt it.

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

Product Showcase

  • Safety Shower Test Cart

    The Safety Shower Test Cart speeds up and simplifies emergency shower tests, ensures you stay in compliance with OSHA regulations, and significantly reduces testing costs. With 7 unique features, the cart makes testing easy, effective, and efficient. You can test water clarity, flow, temperature, and spread—all at the same time! Most safety shower testing kits create a mess, take too much time to use, and don't fully help you stay in compliance with OSHA & ANSI standards. Transform the way you test emergency showers with Green Gobbler Safety. Read More

  • SwabTek® Cannabis Test Kit

    The SwabTek® Cannabis Test Kit is a single-use spot test designed for use in screening for cannabis compounds in any sample type or on any surface. The test is capable of identifying the presumed presence of cannabinoids in very small quantities, with a level of detection as little as 6 μg in mass. Learn more about the SwabTek® Cannabis Test Kit and the rest of SwabTek surface drug testing solutions through the webinar titled "Everything You Want To Know About Surface Testing" Read More

  • Magid® D-ROC® GPD412 21G Ultra-Thin Polyurethane Palm Coated Work Gloves

    Magid’s 21G line is more than just a 21-gauge glove, it’s a revolutionary knitting technology paired with an advanced selection of innovative fibers to create the ultimate in lightweight cut protection. The latest offering in our 21G line provides ANSI A4 cut resistance with unparalleled dexterity and extreme comfort that no other 21-gauge glove on the market can offer! Read More

Featured

Webinars