Most European countries ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving, but not all U.S. states have laws restricting texting and driving. So far, 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. In seven states and the District of Columbia, drivers can only use their cell phones if they are hands-free. Of the states with these laws, Utah's laws are among the strictest, due to one distracted driver and two grieving families.
September 22, 2006, began like any other day for Jackie Furfaro. She kissed her husband, Jim, goodbye as he left to pick up his colleague, Keith O'Dell, for work. A few hours later, Jackie arrived at work, where police were waiting for her. They told her Jim had been in an accident. "I saw Jim's license in the hands of one of the police officers, and I realized that he was dead," she says.
"They told me that a 19-year-old who was driving a white Tahoe had crossed the center line and clipped my husband," she says. "He ended up in the oncoming traffic line and was broadsided by the vehicle behind the 19-year-old, and he was killed instantly, along with Keith."
An investigator at the crash site suspected texting was involved when he saw the 19-year-old, Reggie Shaw, texting on the way to a mandatory drug and alcohol screening. No drugs or alcohol were found in his system, but cell phone records confirmed Reggie had been texting from the time he got into his car up until the moment of the crash.