Are Cell Phones being banned in the State of Delaware?
Not Illegal but Restricted
House Substitute 1 for House Bill 229 was signed into law by Delaware's Governor Jack Markell on July 6th and will go into effect January 2nd, 2011 (180 days after signed). The bill does not ban cell phones but instead limits the use of cell phones while driving.
Starting in 2011 Delaware drivers will be required to use hands free devices such as headsets, bluetooth, or speaker phones otherwise they will be in violation of the new law. Driving while talking on a cell phone is considered a primary offence and will result in a civil penalty with a fine of $50 for the first offense. Additional offense could result in fines up to $200. Currently the fine is the only teeth of this law because points are not reported to the insurance company.
In addition to requiring hands free communication while driving, this law also bans the use of cell phones or other electronic devices to send txts or emails. Being caught txting or emailing will result in the same fines as outlined for not talking hands free.
There are 8 other states that have banned hand held phones while driving and 30 other states that have banned txt'ing while driving.
What is the Point?
Distracted driving is a big problem and it only seems logical that something needs to be done to ensure the safety and well fair of all drivers. According to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety there were over 300 accidents in 2009 that were related to cell phone use while driving.
There are exceptions for Police officers and other businesses that utilize two way communication but one could ask why since they would be equally distracted.
Only a couple years ago there were reports that using headphones while driving impaired one of the senses which caused some to be disoriented. Additionally, it could cause an accident if a driver wearing headphones did not hear a horn or other sounds.
Parents that do not have headphones (or have reasons for not wearing one) will be forced to use some type of speaker phone which means their kids will no longer have to eavesdrop because they will be part of the conversation.
One could argue that eating, putting on makeup, or playing with the radio while driving is just as distracting or even more distracting than talking on the phone or txt'ing.
Many Delawareans are questioning why this law is needed since drivers can already be pulled over for distracted / reckless driving.