Hands-free requirement may not be enough

An editorial from The Register-Herald:

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The revolutionary impact of technology on our lives in the past two decades has without question changed them for the better.

From improved food safety to miraculous medical treatments to the recent unprecedented advances in communications.

But with all such dramatic leaps forward, there often arise new issues directly related to the disruptive new technology.

The use of cell phones and driving are an example.

In the five months since West Virginia implemented the distracted driving law, 286 drivers have been ticketed and another 108 were issued warnings.

Based on our driving experience, we’re somewhat surprised those numbers is so low.

“The whole thing with the law is to make sure people have their hands on the wheel and that they aren’t more concentrated on the phone than what’s in front of them,” said Beckley Police Capt. Lonnie Christian. “If your phone is not in your hand, it’s not a violation.”

The captain is correct. The dangers of distracted driving have been well-documented, with some studies even reporting that driving while using a mobile phone could be as dangerous, or more so, than drunk driving.

Whether that is or is not the case, we know that curtailing both of these behaviors is in the interest of public safety.

All in all, it’s a good start.

But we also are of the opinion that the distracted driver law may not prove to be as effective as it might seem. Hands-free is definitely an improvement, but it may not be enough…

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