It’s understandable that many drivers feel pressured to use their smartphones or other mobile devices while driving. After all, some psychologists argue that smartphones are as addictive or more addictive than drugs. Sometimes that clever tweet or Facebook share just can’t wait until you’re in a safe location. The Minnesota State Patrol, however, disagree. In a landmark example of how serious the distracted driving problem has become, troopers and families of drivers who lost their lives to distracted driving are joining forces to push for new laws limiting in-car phone use. Should troopers in every state follow their example?
Minnesota State Troopers have testified this week in front of the Minnesota House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee that passing a bill which prohibits drivers from using their phones with their hands will save lives. If the bill is successful, Minnesota will join fifteen other states in limiting in-car phone use to hands-free uses only. Still, the bill isn’t without critics. Insurance Federation of Minnesota spokesperson Mark Kudla told Minnesota Public Radio that many state representatives believe such a bill is yet another example of the “nanny state” trying to dictate individuals’ behavior:
There are people, particularly in greater Minnesota, who don’t want government involved in what they do and I think they see this as one of those bills. It is kind of the same reason we don’t have helmet law. It’s one of the reasons why we were one of last states to do primary enforcement of seatbelts.
It boggles my mind writing these distracted driving stories about how many accidents are caused by people driving under the influence of their electronics. You might think you’re capable of talking on the phone while driving (not to mention texting), but research shows that your brain just isn’t capable of handling both tasks – handling them well, anyway. The next time you feel like using your stupid smartphone while driving, just remember that distracted driving has become the leading cause of auto fatalities in many U.S. states. Still think it can’t wait?