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Number of states booting handheld devices in cars grows

Everybody knows that texting and driving is unsafe. Years of public service announcements, news reports and statistics on accidents have resoundingly informed virtually the entire driving public of that fact. Nevertheless, many people still check their phones and other handheld devices while driving. However, new sets of laws are looking to quell that behavior even further.

Georgia has embraced a new ban on all handheld devices being used in cars. This differs from most states' positions, which ban texting alone. This statewide ban is expected to drop the number of accidents due to distracted driving significantly.

Eyes on the road

A recent Bloomberg report stated that traffic fatalities in Georgia, and the rest of the country, have spiked in the last few years. While fighting for the ban to go through, Representative John Carson pointed out that even a 20 percent drop in the number of fatalities would save 260 lives per year; or the number of students in a typical graduating high school class.

These more extreme measures for stomping out distracted driving are not localized to Georgia alone. Oregon and Rhode Island also recently passed similar bans, while Vermont, New York and Connecticut have had them in place even longer still.

TrueMotion, a company which tracks cellphone usage for insurance purposes, stated that distracted driving dropped 19 percent in both Rhode Island and Oregon after the bans were put in place. While not quite the 20 percent Carson was looking for, it represents a major reduction in possible deaths.

Bloomberg also reported that Georgian drivers have been among the greatest offenders when it came to drivers using their phones. After the ban took effect, there was a 22 percent reduction in texting and app use among these drivers.

Future crackdowns on devices

With the addition of Georgia, 15 states have completely banned handheld devices in cars. As more states adopt this position, more states are likely to follow suit. Fewer distracted drivers means fewer avoidable accidents and safer roads for everyone.

As it stands currently, only three states have no formal bans on phone or handheld device usage while driving: Montana, Missouri and Arizona. There is, of course, the possibility that they will change their attitudes if more states report safety increases as dramatic as Georgia, Rhode Island and Oregon.

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