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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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RE: Excessive
By Kosh401 on 1/26/2010 2:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
Is that maybe also a case of drunk driving legislation being old? We just had an overhaul to ours recently here in Ontario. More strict and more severe fines, you essentially have to be careful driving after even 1 beer now.

I don't think I would call this "excessive" (except when compared to your drinking and driving laws maybe, I'm not familiar with them). If I'm in a bus and the driving is texting ppl I'd be pretty pissed off.

There's a good youtube clip I saw a long time ago. It was a news piece of a bus driver swiping some guy while he was texting.. the guy caught up stopped the bus, was arguing with the driver that he just swiped him, and the driver just closed the door and drove off lol.. terrible. He did get busted tho if I remember right. That was actually a part of a Youtube clip showing a bunch of different texting and public transit accidents, very fitting for this article except I'm too lazy to go find it and link it :)


RE: Excessive
By Reclaimer77 on 1/26/2010 3:43:52 PM , Rating: 2
If you CAUSE an accident, I'm all for you being fined out the ass. But it should not costs you thousands of dollars for simply being fined for texting while driving. That is excessive in any rational sense of the word.

It's just sad how transparent this is and how, because it's unpopular, people go along with it. When it's something that effects them though, they will scream to high heaven. This is about the government wanting more money, not safety.


RE: Excessive
By Kosh401 on 1/26/2010 5:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well we just have quite different opinions on this one, then.

I don't look at it as a money grab by gov't; it's a steep (or 'excessive') fine to get people's attention and to try and get them to stop texting while driving. It's the same idea when you hear about customers "voting with their wallet" when they don't buy crappy products, money is the only thing that really gets a company's attention. And it works the same way on the public, as even some of the crazies who think it's fine to text and drive might be more inclined to stop when facing a huge fine.

It's just a way for the gov't to overcome some people's idiocy and lack of concern for others - especially in this case when talking about drivers of vehicles who have dozens of lives in their hands.

Although, I'm all for fines like this for ALL drivers who are texting, as I don't want them on the same roads that my family and I use. I think you can easily argue that texting and driving is clearly dangerous and a form of impairment and people have already been screaming to high heaven about it as it effects them (all drivers), and now we're starting to see results.


RE: Excessive
By Reclaimer77 on 1/27/2010 1:12:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't look at it as a money grab by gov't; it's a steep (or 'excessive') fine to get people's attention and to try and get them to stop texting while driving.


1. The Federal government could care less about your driving safety.

2. It's Unconstitutional for them to pass a federal ban.


RE: Excessive
By AEvangel on 1/26/2010 7:39:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you CAUSE an accident, I'm all for you being fined out the ass. But it should not costs you thousands of dollars for simply being fined for texting while driving. That is excessive in any rational sense of the word.


The same should be and can be said for DUI, the simple fact that you are arguing against this law but defending the DUI laws makes your argument even less sound.

You expect the Drunk driver making the decision to drive while under the influence to pay a higher price, then the person who is clear headed and flagrantly disregards the safety of everyone else to text??

As I have said before, we already have laws in place to deal with this we do not need anymore of these type of laws to legislate stupidity.

All they do is embolden the State and allow them to take more of our freedoms away as well as increase their coffers with needless fines.


RE: Excessive
By Reclaimer77 on 1/27/2010 2:07:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The same should be and can be said for DUI, the simple fact that you are arguing against this law but defending the DUI laws makes your argument even less sound.


Where am I saying that ??

quote:
You expect the Drunk driver making the decision to drive while under the influence to pay a higher price, then the person who is clear headed and flagrantly disregards the safety of everyone else to text??


Drunk driving is illegal and has been for years. Not to mention it's stupid and is the cause of thousands of deaths a year.

Texting while driving has only started being fined by some states before this "federal ban". Which is completely unconstitutional, as you have pointed out yourself.

Comparing the two is stupid. One person is under the effects of a drug, their brains are unable to function properly. Every minute they are behind the wheel, they are a public menace to safety. Is a texter 100% impaired every minute they are behind the wheel ?

Again, I'm not defending those who do it. But the fact that people who drink and drive are less persecuted by the law than those who text is absurd.

quote:
As I have said before, we already have laws in place to deal with this we do not need anymore of these type of laws to legislate stupidity.


Ummm I believe my position clearly states I have the same opinion. So why are you arguing with me ?


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