The majority of states have passed bans on texting while driving. But Connecticut is one of only about a dozen states to also ban all use of cell phones. Distracted driving is among the most serious public health hazards in the United States, and cell phones are a major source of distraction.

Last month, Connecticut may have taken the lead nationally in terms of its anti-distracted-driving laws. Gov. Malloy recently signed a bill allowing fines of up to $1,000 for distracted drivers caught using their cell phones or texting behind the wheel. Although the threat of a very steep fine might be a deterrent to some, many safety advocates say that it will not be as effective as it needs to be.

One outspoken critic who feels that the law is inadequate is a woman whose son was killed by a distracted driver in 2012. Most Connecticut residents remember news reports about a 44-year-old jogger who was struck and killed by a 16-year-old driver in New Canaan. The teen was looking at something on her smart phone when the fatal accident occurred.

The victim’s mother seemingly supports the move to raise distracted driving fines, but she does not believe it will be a strong enough deterrent to stop others from using their cell phones. She is on a campaign to make “other people aware of the fact that you can lose a child, a mother, a father, someone.” She added: “It’s becoming a nationwide problem, and there’s no reason for it. It’s a phone. Why are we so important? It’s a phone.”

At the end of the day, this is one of the more compelling arguments against distracted driving. With very few exceptions, the things we do on our cell phones are of limited importance compared to the task of driving. The next time you are tempted to read a text message or post to Facebook while driving, please ask yourself: Is this worth risking my or someone else’s life? If the answer is no, you should put down the phone.

Source: CBS New York, “Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy Signs Distracted-Driving Bill Into Law,” May 20, 2014