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Banning hands-free devices while driving: Are states taking action?

If you're not holding a cellphone when you're driving, then you're not distracted by it, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. That is why federal safety regulators recommend that states ban the use of hands-free devices while driving. As we pointed out in last week's post, research on the cognitive limits of the mind to process information from multiple sources supports this position.

But are states taking action on the federal recommendation to prohibit hands-free device use behind the wheel?

How states have responded

The short answer is no. No state has taken action to ban hands-free phones while driving. But there are numerous states that have hands-free restrictions for certain drivers.

One set of restrictions involves bus drivers. California and 19 other states prohibit bus drivers from driving while using all types of cellphones, both handheld and hands-free. The District of Columbia has this restriction as well.

California and 36 other states also prohibit new or novice drivers from using cellphones while driving, regardless of whether the phone is handheld or hands-free. In California, a novice driver is defined as someone under 18.

The ban on all cellphone use by bus drivers in California is a primary law. This means police can pull someone over for violating it even if there is no other conduct that would justify a traffic stop.

After an accident

Lack of attentiveness causes many car accidents in California and across the country. Of course there are many types of distraction besides digital distraction. Combing air, drinking coffee or fiddling with the radio are still common occurrences, and frequent phone use has added another level of dangerous distraction.

If you get in an accident with a driver who was distracted, it makes sense to get skilled counsel from a lawyer who is experienced in handling car accident cases. Dealing with issues of insurance and medical bills is best done with such assistance.

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