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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: It's a good start
By Fracture on 1/27/2010 9:26:45 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is sometimes just that: its their profession. A cop does not have to drive to make a living (necessarily.. or can spend a lot of time parked in one spot).

A small percentage of professional drivers make the choice to sacrifice rest for more miles/hauls, often with disasterous consequences. While your average recreational driver can drink, drive, and cause some pretty serious damage, a sleepy semi driver will turn anything it hits into a crushed soda can.

My point is, its not always the external distractions that cause crashes, but that doesn't really relate to this article. Internal factors such as fatigue will however multiply their consequences, and it is much more an issue with vehicles weighing many times your average SUV.

You are right about experience leading to less accidents under normal circumstances though.


RE: It's a good start
By TheEinstein on 1/27/2010 7:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Where did I mention fatigue and rest issues?

You reacted like a talking point.

I spoke of instruments and devices, not of fatigue.

Now as I said before, we have a lot of instruments, but we do need certain amounts.

Texting while driving is a skill set for professional drivers. Our next load, directions, fuel routing, HR issues, etc, all via a text device (in my case a Qualcomm)

I cannot wait for the government to regulate sex and porn on the scale they are regulating other freedoms. I can see the laws now "no sex on tuesdays, unless in full body latex" and "premature ejaculation is punishable by a $5000 fine" and "at any time a government regulator may study your sexual habits to determine if they are safe"


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