Roger Chan’s life was forever changed on Thanksgiving 2010. The former assistant city manager of Austin was riding his motorcycle, on his birthday, in front of Austin City Hall when a distracted driver struck him. The driver was paying so little attention that he did not stop immediately, and drug Chan along the road, shearing his leg off.

Now, years later, Chan is a motorcycle safety advocate and champions for stiffer laws to penalize distracted driving.

Current Cell Phone Laws

Effective October 2013, twelve states, along with D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All laws fall under primary enforcement, meaning that an officer may cite a driver for hand-held cell phone use without any other traffic violations taking place. Currently, no states ban all cell phone use for all drivers, but thirty-seven states and D.C. ban all cell phone use for novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit use for school bus drivers.

In 2007, Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban. Now, forty-one states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have text messaging bans for all drivers. All but four have primary enforcement. Six states prohibit texting by novice drivers, and three states restrict school bus drivers from texting.

Are Tougher Laws Needed?

Distraction from cell phone use claimed 995 lives in 2009, and injured an additional 448,000 people. These numbers show just how serious distracted driving is however, penalties for hitting a motorcyclist with your car while using your cell phone are alarmingly minimal. In many cases, there is just a small fine or citation, and in some instances, there is no punishment at all.

On average, texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. Traveling at 65mph, a vehicle can cover 438 feet before the driver would look at the road again.

All of these statistics show that distracted driving from cell phone usage is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Will increasing awareness work?  People seem to know it’s illegal but do it anyway.  Would increasing the penalties be the way to seriously address this issue?

Check out this brutal accident video caused by someone who was distracted which you clearly see at the end of the video.

Motorcycle Accident Attorneys on Your Side

At Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®, we understand how devastating a motorcycle accident can be. That’s why we have dedicated our entire practice to helping injured motorcyclists obtain the compensation they need to recover after a devastating accident. To learn more about our law firm or BAM, our free roadside and legal assistance program, call us at 1-800-4-BIKERS or visit us on the web at We Ride—We Care—We Win!