Texting While Driving
Legislation introduced Wednesday would withhold federal highway funds from states that do not ban texting while driving.
Countless studies have shown that texting is more distracting than talking on the phone, and as dangerous, if not more so, than driving under the influence.
Under this measure, introduced by Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Kay Hagen of North Carolina, states would lose 25 percent of the federal highway funds until the funds were depleted.
“Studies show this is far more dangerous than talking on a phone while driving or driving while drunk, which is astounding,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, the other one of four senators to introduce the proposed legislation.
Recent studies show the seriousness of the practice.
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – finds truck drivers face a 23 times greater risk of crashing while texting, reports the New York Times.
- The University of Utah - Finds an eightfold increase in the risk of crashing when motorists, studied with a simulator, were texting. Cell phone use increased the risk fourfold, which is about equal to DUI.
- The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen – Uncovered documents withheld by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They showed since 2003, the government has known drivers talking on cell phones and multitasking presented a danger, but opted not to make public hundreds of pages including cell phone use suspected behind 955 fatalities and 240,000 accidents in 2002.
Presently 14 states ban texting while driving, among them Alaska, California, the District of Columbia and New Jersey. New York has legislation pending. The New York Times is publishing the withheld documents on its Web site.
In 1984, the federal government exerted pressure on states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21.
Opposing the measure is the Governors Highway Safety Association, which opposes texting while driving but says there is no way to enforce a texting or cell phone ban. Those same concerns were once raised about enforcing a seat belt requirement. #