Governors Highway Safety Association: Ban Texting While Driving
publication date: Sep 1, 2009
I dislike all the extra bells and whistles that come on cell phones. Besides making the devices needlessly complicated, many folks, especially kids, find the temptations a way to waste money. State laws addressing the use of cell phones while driving aren't doing the job to address the dangers of people using cell phones while driving. Many states either have lax laws or fail to enforce them. Furthermore, there are many other electronic distractions besides talking on a cell phone: like texting. A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash event because of the distraction caused by texting.
Now, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has come out in support of all states banning drivers from texting while driving:
The membership of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has enacted a new policy encouraging every state to ban texting behind the wheel for all drivers...The action by the GHSA membership is based on the fact that texting while driving is indisputably a distraction and a serious highway safety problem. If every state passes a texting ban, it will send a message to the public that this dangerous practice is unacceptable. We can begin to change the culture that has permitted distracted driving.”
In my previous article on cell phones, I highlighted the many dangers associated with cell phones and why parents especially need to draw the line with their kids and only make cell phones available for placing and receiving phone calls. State cell phone restrictions (e.g. requiring the use of a hands free device) are like someone needing life insurance only buying flight insurance when they take an airplane flight somewhere - it only addresses a small portion of the risk/problem.
Now, the GHSA goes on to make the following additional, sensible recommendations:
"As part of a state’s graduated licensing law, novice drivers should be prohibited from text messaging or using cell phones and other electronic devices for non-emergency purposes while driving.
GHSA supports state legislation that would ban text messaging, electronic devices used for entertainment purposes with video screens that are within view of the driver and school bus drivers from text messaging or using electronic devices except in emergencies.
GHSA believes that, when on the road, all drivers should not text message, use cell phones or other electronic devices, faxes, computers or other distracting devices except to report a crash to emergency responders. If a driver must use such devices to make a call or report a crash, the driver should first stop in a parking lot or other protected area."