Nearly everyone is guilty of texting-while-driving, in at least some capacity. In order to combat this dangerous practice – 6,000 people died in 2008 due to distracted or inattentive drivers while more than 500,000 were injured – the NHTSA has prepared sample legislation for states to adopt what would authorize law enforcement officials to stop a vehicle and issue a citation to drivers who are observed texting while driving.
Under the proposed guidelines, drivers who are caught texting while driving face a minimum fine of $75.00 and action against their driving privilege. In those instances where a death occurs, the texting driver could possibly face felony charges. 19 states plus the District of Columbia already have anti-texting measures in place, while seven have banned the use of handheld devices while driving all together.
Regulators attribute the threat in texting while driving to the three-pronged distraction that is caused; visual, manual, and cognitive. NHTSA research also shows that the vast majority of texting-drivers are men and women under the age of 20; the least-experienced drivers.
The DOT offered their own guidance earlier this year in the form of a prohibition on texting while driving commercial vehicles, at the risk of civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.00. The federal government currently prohibits employees from texting while operating government-owned vehicles and equipment.
– By: Stephen Calogera