• Aug 6, 2009
A recent study from Virginia Tech showed that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to get into a crash and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is looking to address the problem head-on with a September summit to study distracted driving. LaHood plans to to use the summit with law enforcement, safety advocates and transportation officials to come up with a series of concrete steps to curtail distracted driving. The Los Angeles Times reports that LaHood would like to ban text messaging, though the Secretary says enforcement and education is key.

The Senate is already looking at the possibility of a nationwide ban on text messaging while driving. Since states typically mandate such laws, the federal government is looking to enact a set of restrictions that states will have to enforce, or risk losing 25% of their federal road improvement funding.

While a ban of text messaging would likely curtail such behavior, we're wondering how such a law could be properly enforced. It would likely be difficult for officers to know definitively if a driver was text messaging while driving, unless the phone is confiscated or phone records are checked. Of course, the same could also be said for areas in which talking on the phone while driving is illegal (without a hands-free device), and we haven't heard of any major legal challenges issued on that front.

[Source: The Los Angeles Times | Source: Michael Smith/Getty]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      To make the most improvement in safety, then nothing should be allowed to distract the driver. No cell phones, hands on or off, no food, drinks, no more need for cup holders, and definitely no smoking. Ditch the spouse and kids also, as they distract most drivers. In Canada, we have a law about driving without due care and attention. Cops rarely try to enforce it, but it does come into play if there is an accident. Texting is just plain dumb for a driver. If it causes an accident then throw the book at the texting driver.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "LaHood plans to to use the summit with law enforcement, safety advocates and transportation officials to come up with a series of concrete steps to curtail distracted driving."

      I wonder if there will be anyone there who actually drives cars (and likes them) or just more big governmental control freaks who ride around in chauffeur driven cars while they figure out how to push the rest of us into mass transit?

      Driving while distracted is a huge problem but these nibble-a-bit-here-and-there Federal laws that blackmail states into compliance are a bad idea. I would rather see the States band together to create a tiered licensing system and real driver training courses. We are a nation of individual States, not a nation of shires and serfs who kneel when the Great Father in Wa$hington tells us to do so.



      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who needs enforcement, fix it at the source. Most new phones have some sort of GPS built into them. Simply change the phones software to disable texting (sending and receiving) if they are moving faster than 10mph (or whatever speed seems appropriate).
        • 5 Years Ago
        great idea! re: GPS switches used in txt messaging.

      • 5 Years Ago
      "Statistically, sure, but not absolutely. Maybe you drive like you have a 0.08 BAC, but I don't so why am I being punished for your inability to multi-task?"

      Because while you may not drive like you have a .08 BAC, statics show that as you multi-task, your operating your vehicle with the same proficiency as a person with a .08 BAC. I don't need the "Worl'd Best Multi-Tasker" standing beside our smashed cars, apologizing for the accident. And that the government may have to force you to pay attention (while you try and defend your position) makes one think that maybe you're not operating your vehicle much below that .08 threashold afterall...

      • 5 Years Ago
      In recent years, medical advances, the development of safer cars, improved highways, and faster response times has saved many lives on America’s roads - yet when it comes to improving driver behaviors very little has changed. Until now.

      Few people have more influence on one's driving behavior than their peers do.

      See www.drivertodriver.org and click on the distracted driving link.

      Driver to Driver® taps the vast resource of driver experiences, and channels positive peer influence in a way that improves the driving habits of all peer groups – from teen drivers, to truck drivers, and the general driving public.


      • 5 Years Ago
      I think it's a matter of officer's visually enforcing the law. You cannot rely on phone records because many of us have bluetooth built-in and are completely hands-free. I think visual checks and a "nationwide" ban is ok though, but of course it will be up to the states to develop enforcement policies.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Personally, I think the fine for talking on the phone (not hands-free) should be at least $250. Texting (yes, that includes email), $500. I've witnessed three accidents caused by cells and texting and I can't count how many near-misses I see, daily.

        You get that much money on the line and two things happen, quick: 1) Municipalities will start enforcing the law (the $25 fine in CA isn't enforced because of this), and 2) drivers will learn how painful it is to be a distracted driver.

        Don't like it? Tough. The rest of us don't like living in fear of soccer moms and teenagers twittering our lives away.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree that no one should ever text while driving, but a law against it would be about as easy to enforce as a law requiring everyone to wipe with their left hand.

      "risk losing 25% of their federal road improvement funding"
      This is TOTAL BULLSH|T. If the federal government wants to take lawmaking rights away from states, at least they can be straightforward and honest about it and say "states no longer have the right to make their own traffic laws." I am sick of the federal govenment strong-arming the states in this backhanded manner so they can take away legislative rights and still technically be able to say "states can make their own laws"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Um, the Federal government has the power to control funding, and have raised the drinking age to 21 and encouraged seatbelt laws through this mechanism. If a state doesn't want to have a texting ban, that's fine, but they also forgo Federal highway dollars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No testing eh? That's fine, I'm under the age of 50 and spend most my idle time on the phone replying to emails, chatting on aim/facebook/google, updating and connecting with people on facebook, and commenting here some times. All of which aren't covered, wonderful. Can we get someone to champion bills like these that, you know, uses phones like Americans do in 2009 and not 1999? I can see it now "do you know why I pulled you over?" "because I was replying to an email, which isn't txting" "oh. Um. Move along"
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm guessing that's why LaHood wants to call it a distracted driving summit, instead of a texting-but-not-updating-your-facebook-page-while-driving summit.

        What would be superb is if states could get a waiver from the whole 'no funds unless you ban texting' if those states introduce a driver education program that goes farther than the typical 'red means stop, green means go, here's your license' programs in most states.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think that's a good start, but the trouble is, kids won't care. Part of the reason we have such atrocious driving over here is that whole selfish mentality, not letting people over who use their blinker in California for example. It's not even being distracted, it's just plain not understanding how to drive on the road with more people then one selfish individual. But we can't mandate responsibility.

        Maybe a mandatory phone records check as part of car insurance investigations. Then i'd wager most would be a little more averse to texting if they new their insurance might be compromised. Granted it wouldn’t relate to my point but not everyone has a crackberry/iphone/pre
      • 5 Years Ago
      Every person should have to follow the traffic rules, and also avoid to use cellphones while driving.
      http://www.usedcarshowroom.co.uk/
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think this is important information for driver.This was many risk, and driver have to used hands-free.Thanks for sharing this important information.
      http://www.usedcarshowroom.co.uk/
      • 5 Years Ago
      The insurance industry is going to love this one.

      Get caught for texting while driving - you're premiums just doubled. Crash while texting - we just impounded your car and took your first born.
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