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
"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
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.
quote: The mere fact that the state chooses not to single out other forms of negligence (beyond dui, that is) in no way, shape, or form implies they lose the right to enforce a very real public safety risk from texting.