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Cell phones in School Zone

Texas passed a law which went into effect September 1, 2009 which makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone in Texas.  There are some requirements:

There must be a sign at beginning of school zone informing drivers that using a wireless communications device is prohibited and the operator is subject to a fine.

When does the restriction apply?  As the school zones are only in effect during specific hours, the same should apply to the cell phone ban.

Exceptions:

If you are stopped you can use your cell phone in a school zone or if you are using a hands free device.

You know the law, what do you think about it.

One question is does using hands free really make a difference in your attention to make it acceptable to use in a school zone?

Based upon simulator studies conducted at the University of Utah they determined there was no difference in the cognitive distraction between hand-held and hands-free devices.   (National Safety Council)  That being the case why should one be banned and the other allowed.  Should both be banned? What is the harm in not using your cell phone while driving in a school zone?

Does it really make a difference if you are on a call while driving.

Two studies found that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash while using a cell phone. (1997 New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and 2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to cell phone records).

The issue as I see it is that the risk of hitting a child in a school zone and potentially destroying their life as well as your own (could you really forgive yourself if you hit a kid while talking on a phone) is worth putting the phone away for a few minutes.

Let me know your comments.

Also as a follow up to the last blog about texting while driving, try the interactive test at the new york times site:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/19/technology/20090719-driving-game.html

Next time cell phone messaging and texting – Drivers under 18

 

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  1. Jen
    October 29, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I think the rule makes a lot of sense, and seems to be a good compromise, particularly since other states require the use of hands-free devices at all times.

    Although hands-free devices still involve the distraction of the conversation you are having on the phone, the driver is able to react quicker than they would if they had to set down their cell phone first. And a quick reaction time is crucial, especially in school zones where children may dart out unexpectedly.

    Has there been any discussion of expanding the prohibition on cell phones without the use of the wireless device beyond school zones?

    • carpentercarpenter
      October 30, 2009 at 2:57 am

      Not at this time, but it could be coming based upon the studies, crashes and injuries.

  2. Jan
    October 30, 2009 at 2:40 am

    I work for Shell and have a company blackberry. We are not allowed to use our phones while driving and can be fired if we violate this rule. The rule is one of our 12 lifesaving rules that were put in place after evaluating the biggest causes of death in our work. Driving while using the cell phone is a leading cause of employees being killed, along with industrial accidents like falling from heights, walking under a heavy load, etc.

    I find it much easier to focus on driving now that I don’t use the cell–no difference for hands free–all is dangerous. I expect a state law in the future banning cell phones.

    • carpentercarpenter
      October 30, 2009 at 3:04 am

      I believe there is a new executive order which bans the use of cell phone use while driving for all federal employees.

    • jessineurope
      October 31, 2009 at 1:10 am

      I’m really impressed by that policy, I think it’s a great idea. Is shell hiring by any chance.. 🙂

  3. October 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Yes, I support the new law.

    I was almost hit by a woman in a Range Rover the other day when she decided that she wanted to merge left into my lane while we were making the left at 99 and 59.

    And when I honked she acted like it was my bad!

    Luckily, my motorcycle-rider-spider sense was working that day, or I would have gone down. 🙂

    Seriously, I know my 10 year old, and he does not pay nearly as much attention to vehicles as I do. No cell phones in schools zones works for me.

    Lee
    @bizlawyertexas on Twitter

  4. November 2, 2009 at 7:10 am

    California has laws requiring hands free devices for cell phones while driving, and prohibiting texting while driving. Attention while texting is even worse than using a cell phone.

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