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Drivers of large vehicles are the latest to feel the wrath of the anti-texting movement

Driving is a privilege that most Americans take for granted. We drive to work, we drive to see family, and we run errands on the weekend to Home Depot or fend off soccer moms in their minivans at Target. However, technology continues to invade not only our lives, but also our vehicles, which is making the normally mundane act of driving more challenging.

From GPS units to cell phones to SYNC in-car infotainment systems, U.S. drivers have found new ways to distract themselves while driving thanks to technology (not to mention other favorites such as applying makeup, eating, reading the newspaper, etc.). Texting while driving is the latest craze to infect drivers and states around the country are swiftly implementing laws to make such activities illegal. Texting is already banned in 19 states, and 23 states are currently prepping their own laws to tackle the problem.

"Legislators are looking to see if it (texting) is enough of a safety issue that they need to intervene," said Anne Teigen told the USA Today. Teigen is a transportation specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They often get involved because there's a high-profile accident that had to do with texting. Also, because everybody has a cellphone now."

While states are currently going it alone in drafting "no texting while driving" laws, there are a few nationwide texting bans that drivers should heed. President Obama issued an executive order at the close of 2009 banning all federal workers -- rather, those on the job -- from texting while driving. The ban affects roughly four million federal workers.

Now a new, federal ban is coming down from the U.S. government. The latest nationwide texting ban applies to drivers of big rigs and buses. "We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

Drivers that choose not to abide by the new law face a fine of $2,750.

The bans from both the states and the U.S. government come on the heels of numerous studies which point out the dangerous consequences of texting and driving. A study by the University of Utah showed that drivers that text behind the wheels are six times more likely to be involved in a collision. The National Security Council notes that roughly 200,000 accidents are caused each drivers who text behind the wheel.

However, it's wishful thinking to believe that nationwide texting bans are going to stop people from partaking in America's favorite electronic pastime. Reuters has previously reported that teens aren't persuaded to stop their texting addictions just because there are laws on the books to prohibit the act.

"What I would say is that texting and cell phone devices have become such a component of life for teens and for young people that it's hard for them to differentiate between doing something normal and doing something wrong," remarked Steven Bloch, a senior research associate for the Automobile Club.

Considering that texting while driving isn't a habit that only affect teenagers, it's more than likely that drivers in a more "advanced state of age" are reluctant to stop the practice as well.

While the current nationwide texting bans affect a relatively small portion of the entire U.S. driver pool, Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat, NY) is looking to change that. Senator Schumer has introduced legislation that would call for a federal ban on texting while driving. States that don't comply with the legislation would be see a 25 percent cut in the federal highway funds they receive.

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By redbone75 on 1/26/2010 2:21:50 PM , Rating: -1
"Legislators are looking to see if it (texting) is enough of a safety issue that they need to intervene," said Anne Teigen told the USA Today.

So, let me get this straight: a person who is a specialist in anything actually said this? And can we get rid of the legislators that are having a tough time with the issue? And please, don't start with the "well, I can do blah blah blah while driving and I've never had an accident." Texting while driving ranks right up there with not wearing a seatbelt, or helmet, for that matter. Just because you've haven't been in an accident yet while doing it, you're sure going to wish you weren't/did if an accident does happen.

Also, it's a stupid argument that people try to make about the government interfering too much in my private life and what I can and can't do in/with my own property. We're talking about safety, people. Stop being so damned selfish and self-centered. People who make that argument often fail to realize that these laws are meant to protect not only you, but other people! If you don't care enough about your own safety, fine. I personally don't want to have you pull out on me because you were too busy texting and didn't check your blind spots before changing lanes.

RE: What?!?
By msomeoneelsez on 1/26/2010 5:22:36 PM , Rating: 1
Also, it's a stupid argument that people try to make about the government interfering too much in my private life and what I can and can't do in/with my own property.

It actually is a good argument to have. Think about if we didn't have that argument...

We're talking about safety, people.

Famous last words.

In this case, I would agree that a form of prevention should be in place, but it must be done with absolute discretion. It should be more about reckless driving than texting, or drunk driving, or what have you.

My point? Don't be so quick to say an argument is stupid when many people are using it. Look for merit in it even when you may just disagree.

Also, make sure that you aren't supporting a law which may easily be distorted or acted upon in a way other than intended, that just leads to problems.

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