Yesterday, the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unveiled sample legislation for distracted driving, specifically targeting the action of texting while driving. The proposal is aimed to serve as a foundation for states who want to craft their own laws prohibiting text messaging while behind the wheel.
“Texting while driving, like talking on cell phones while driving, is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening practice,”
said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
According to NHTSA research, nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured. Research also shows that the most frequent offenders are the youngest and least-experienced drivers, men and women under 20 years of age.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road. Drivers who text while driving are also more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers.
Yesterday’s announcement was only the latest in the campaign against distracted driving.
In late January of 2010, a federal ban on texting was enacted for drivers of large commercial vehicles. LaHood stated: “We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe.” Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.
On October 1, 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Order prohibiting Federal employees from texting while driving Government-owned vehicles, while driving privately owned vehicles while on Government business, and from texting while driving using wireless electronic devices supplied by the Government.
Do you think laws against driving and texting will improve traffic safety, or should the DOT ban eating food and changing radio stations while driving as well?* We’d like to hear your comments.
For more information:
- FAQ for laws concerning cell phone use while driving in California
- Tougher penalties proposed for text messaging while driving in California
- Visit the NHTSA’s information page on distracted driving
- Download the February 22, 2010 U.S. DOT press release: New Sample Bill will Aid States in Banning Texting While Driving
- Download the January 26, 2010 U.S. DOT press release: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Federal Ban on Texting for Commercial Truck Drivers
- Download the sample law: Texting While Driving – Sample Legislation