Dnt Ansr That Txt Message N UR Car … Aamof It’s Now a Crime! (Don’t Answer That Text Message in Your Car … As a Matter of Fact it’s Now a Crime!)
Governor Kasich is about to sign a recently passed statewide texting-while-driving ban which targets all drivers but is more aggressive towards those young drivers under 19 years of age. When the bill becomes law, texting with hand-held devices will become a secondary offense for adults. Adult drivers could be ticketed for typing emails or instant messages only if the officer initiated the stop because of another traffic violation. Young drivers, however, can be pulled over by an officer if he observes the operator of the vehicle texting while the car is operational, with no other reason needed for the traffic stop beyond the act of texting.
Proponents believe that the measure will save lives by preventing texting which arguably causes distracted drivers. Opponents believe that the law will be difficult to enforce and is one more example of the “nannystate” at work. They point out that no similar restrictions apply to the loss of driver focus caused by listening to the radio, putting on makeup, eating and similar distractions.
There are a number of studies that show that texting while driving significantly reduces driver response time. In one recent study, the Texas Transportation Institute reported that “Texting while driving basically doubles a driver’s reaction time and makes the driver less able to respond to sudden roadway dangers…”
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. Of those people killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). Thirty-four states have now adopted texting and driving bans, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Some people have questioned whether a ban on texting while driving will actually lead to more crashes because drivers will conceal their cell phones, making it more dangerous to read and type messages. There is also the argument that some bad drivers are so easily distracted that any activity from playing the radio to having children crying in the back seat distracts them to a degree that they pose a danger on the highways. Is the solution to penalize all drivers by banning radios and small children from our automobiles? This issue is being heatedly debated around the water coolers of America. Some are asking the question “How much of my freedom do you need to take from me to keep me safe?”
Forum Question of the Week:
Is the statewide texting-while-driving ban a step in the right direction toward saving lives? It is another example of “nanny state” government? Does the ban go far enough? Should playing a car stereo or eating while driving be banned as well?