Vehicle accidents caused by drivers talking or texting on their cell phones have become a larger and larger problem over the last decade. In Clark County, 1,158 collisions that involved drivers distracted by a cell phone were reported from 2005 to 2009. These days people, especially teenagers, frequently drive while talking on the phone, or even with their eyes glued to their cell phone as they write text messages.
Some Nevada lawmakers say that state and county laws have not kept pace with the new reality of the road. They are planning to introduce bills at the state and county levels that would, in one way or another, make it a crime to use a cell phone while driving.
The idea has momentum nationwide. According to an interesting recent article in the Las Vegas Sun, 28 states have banned text messaging while driving and seven have laws against any cell phone use by drivers. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, has threatened to withhold federal highway grants from states without a texting ban.
The proposed bills differ in what they would ban, and who would be affected. Mark Manendo, a Democrat from Las Vegas who is moving from the Assembly to the state Senate, said his bill would prohibit calling and texting for teenagers only. He argued that an all-ages bill would be too difficult to pass, and that teens do most of the texting and driving anyway. AAA Nevada supported a similar teen-only bill.
Another bill would not address calls, but would ban texting for all drivers. Sponsors said that an age limit would not work because police often have trouble figuring out a driver’s age.
While all cell phone use raises the risk of a car accident, talking on the phone behind the wheel has become too much of a part of life to ban, sponsors of the text-only ban said.
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