Opinion | In Support of Hands-Free Legislation

By: | March 22, 2020

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

Nationwide’s CEO Kirt Walker has it right.

In an opinion letter to The Columbus Dispatch, Walker advocated for every state in the country to pass “hands-free” legislation.

This would make it illegal for people to be handling a cell phone, swiping, photographing, texting, etc., while operating a motor vehicle.

We all see it every day. We’re driving, or walking, and someone drives past us at the wheel of a two-ton vehicle. Their head is down, and they are looking at a device held in their hands.

We’ve already lost thousands of lives. Insurers know full well the cost. They need only look at their commercial and personal auto losses.

The National Safety Council estimates that one in four crashes is due to mobile phone usage. With an average of 37,000 deaths per year on our highways, we’re conservatively throwing away thousands of lives because we can’t be bothered to think outside of our own selfish orb and operate cars in a way that’s safer for everyone.

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According to a press release from Nationwide, only 21 states, including Georgia, Arizona, Massachusetts and D.C., have hands-free legislation in place.

Pennsylvania Republican State Representative Rosemary Brown recently introduced legislation that would mandate a $200 fine for anyone holding a cell phone and talking on it while driving.

She’s on the right track. We’ve already lost thousands of lives. Insurers know full well the cost. They need only look at their commercial and personal auto losses.

Not many issues we deliberate on are as clear-cut as this one. This is a call for more legislative action — and sooner, not later. &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]