AcrossÂ the country, cell phone laws that prohibit drivers from texting or talking while driving are being enforced. In the past there may have been some leniency with enforcement but now police are cracking down. Recently, even superstar BeyonceÂ got handed a $100 ticket in New York for texting and driving. Â Unfortunately, according the Pew Research Center, many more adults are engaging in this risky behavior. Media attention from campaigns like Oprah Winfrey’s “No Phone Zone” isÂ putting pressure on lawmakers demanding that their roads become safer. As drivers, we should do our part too.
All drivers should understandÂ their state laws set for cell phone use are designed to keep them safe. You might only be concerned with learning them to avoid getting slammed with a big ticket (and weâ€™ll admit thatâ€™s a good motivator) but that shouldnâ€™t be your sole reason. Focus on safe cell phone use in the car for the sake of yourself, your passengers, other drivers and the pedestrians who might be crossing the street in front of you.
Here are some waysÂ you can abide by state laws that have cell phone bans and make sure that your talk and text obsession doesnâ€™t become a driving distraction:
1. Save your socialization for later. You might not want to hear that your car should be a text and talk free zone, but while youâ€™re driving your Twitter updates can wait. It can be hard to restrain yourself from tweeting a picture and snarky comment about a hilarious personalized license plate, but your life is worth more than a laugh. If you think the temptation to use your phone might be too much for yourself or a teenager driver in your family, thereâ€™s a neat application called TxtBlocker that ensures you can neither send nor receive text messages for set periods of time. Another easy and somewhat terrifying solution for many? Power down the phone altogether.
2. Set a no text rule for new drivers. If youâ€™ve got a teenager youâ€™re well aware how invincible they think they are. Knowing theyâ€™re risking their safety may not be enough to prevent them from texting while driving and itâ€™s crucial that new drivers in particular give their full attention to the road. So itâ€™s up toÂ Mom and Dad to set consequences that will scare teenagers into abiding by the â€œno phone use in carâ€ rule. Some states do also have laws designed to stop new and young drivers specifically from using their cell phone while behind the wheel.
3. Pull off the road or use a hands-free device. TheÂ safest option is to avoid using your iPhone or Blackberry in the car, period. If your state allows using a hands-free device , then make use of it if you just canâ€™t stop yourself from picking up the phone. Or if you need to take a call while youâ€™re on the road,Â pull off to a rest stop or parking area before chatting.
4. Report unsafe drivers. If youâ€™re a responsible driver avoiding cell phone use in your own car, you can also prevent road hazards by reporting drivers texting or talking on their own cell phones. Get a license plate number and call your local police – not 911 unless the driver is making erratic moves. (And try only to call while driving if it really looks like he or she might hit someone. Otherwise call later)
Not familiar with your state laws for cell phone use while driving? Check out this summary by the Governorâ€™s Highway Safety Association . For statistics and news on texting and talking while driving, we found TextnDrive.com/wordpress , a great new blog that posts all the latest information.