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Could hands-free texting be banned?

Since a law allowing California motorists to dictate and send text messages using hands-free systems, the practice of “texting while driving” has taken on a different connotation. While thousands of Bay Area drivers stuck in traffic every day, using voice-command systems has made communication easier and ostensibly safer.

However, if a new lawmaker has his way, the new law could be replaced, and hands-free texting would become illegal.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) wants to ban all forms of text messaging (manual and hands-free) while behind the wheel. He relies upon a recent Virginia Tech study (the institution that analyzed the dangers of cell phone use while driving) finding that use of hands free texting is equally as dangerous as traditional text messaging.

He explained to ABC News 7 that the amount of time a driver takes their eyes off the road (4.6 seconds), and the relative distance travelled (100 yards), leads him to believe that a universal ban on text messaging is necessary. He also cites NHTSA statistics detailing the deaths and injuries attributable to distracted driving as the impetus for his bill.

Distracted driving has gained national attention over the last two years, with more than 30 states and the District of Columbia adopting regulations that ban text messaging while driving. Safety concerns were the overriding impetus in many bills, and some jurisdictions have gone as far as prohibiting cell phone use while driving altogether.

However, automakers are tailoring more of their offerings to the advent of voice-command technology. Combined with advanced dangers recognition systems, they may find that additional regulation of hands-free systems is not necessary.

Frazier’s bill is scheduled to get a first hearing during the spring legislative session.

Source: ABC 7News.com, Bay Area lawmaker looks to outlaw hands-free texting while driving, February 13, 2013

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