Some groups have argued that state traffic laws makelegislation regulating cell phone use unnecessary. Sadly, this is nottrue. Laws on traffic safety vary from state to state, and driversdistracted by cell phones can get off with light punishment evenwhen they cause fatal accidents. For example, although the midshipmanmentioned earlier was charged with vehicular manslaughterfor the deaths of John and Carole Hall, the judge was unable toissue a verdict of guilty. Under Maryland law, he could only findthe defendant guilty of negligent driving and impose a $500 fine(Layton C1).
Such a light sentence is not unusual. The driver whokilled Morgan Pena in Pennsylvania received two tickets and a $50fine–and retained his driving privileges (Pena). In Georgia, ayoung woman distracted by her phone ran down and killed a twoyear-old;her sentence was ninety days in boot camp and five hundredhours of community service (Ippolito J1). The families of thevictims are understandably distressed by laws that lead to suchlight sentences.