The message about the dangers of driving while distracted is gaining steam as more and more people band together to preach a message of safety. A recent study by the U.S. Transportation Department concluded that people are 23 times more likely to get into an automotive accident if they are texting while driving. Thirty-five states have enacted laws against texting while driving and several other states are currently debating similar laws. Texting may have received the most attention, but a wide range of distractions are being discussed by safety advocates.
Perhaps the most aggressive stance has come from the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB has called for a ban on all personal electronic device use by drivers. That would mean that all cell phone use, including use with a hands-free device, would be outlawed. They point to studies that have shown that anything that moves a driver’s attention from driving greatly increases the chances of crashing. With more than 3,000 deaths attributed to distracted driving in 2010 alone, the NTSB felt that a total ban was the best way to promote safe driving.
The laws against texting and driving have seen spotty enforcement and have had no impact on the overall rate of crashes in the states that have enacted them. While some states have issued thousands of tickets, others have issued only a handful. Police raise valid concerns about the difficulty of catching a person in the act of texting. Regardless of the effectiveness of the laws, it is clear that texting and driving should be discouraged.
A moment of inattention behind the wheel can be deadly. Whether you take your eyes off the road to program a GPS, answer your phone, or drink your coffee, the distraction could lead to a fatal car crash. Eliminating those distractions is in everyone’s interest. The least we can do is be conscious of the danger posed by distracted driving.
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