Distracted driving has become a major hazard. In 2016, nearly 3,500 people were killed by distracted drivers – in many cases, drivers sending or receiving text messages on mobile devices.
A lot of distracted driving involves the use of mobile devices. While no state has laws on the books completely banning the use of cell phones while driving, many states have passed laws prohibiting texting while driving or making manual phone calls while driving.
New Mexico Laws Surrounding Distracted Driving
New Mexico bans the use of hand-held phones only for state vehicles and novice drivers under the age of 18, as well as for drivers holding a learner’s permit or provisional license. Novice drivers and holders of learner’s permits and provisional licenses are prohibited from using hand- held or hands-free devices for texting or for making and receiving calls.
In many of the rural areas of New Mexico, adult drivers are permitted to use hand-held devices to dial phone numbers and to receive phone calls while driving. However, drivers in the cities of Albuquerque, Espanola, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Taos, and Gallup are prohibited from using cell phones for texting or conversation while driving.
Implications of Distracted Driving
Dialing a phone, or even talking hands-free on a phone, prevents you from paying full attention to the road. Texting while driving is especially dangerous. It is estimated that sending or reading a typical text message requires five seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re traveling on the highway at 55 miles an hour, focusing on a text message for five seconds is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
Engaging in any activity other than concentrating on driving increases the risk of accident. For instance, reading increases the risk of accident by a factor of four, while turning around toward the back seat of your vehicle increases the risk of an accident by a factor of eight. In comparison, talking on the phone while driving increases the risk of an accident by a factor of four, and texting while driving increases the risk of an accident by as much as 23 times.