Messaging into Cell Phones/ PDAs/ BlackBerrys while driving to propose legislation
Drivers who take their eyes off the road to text and e-mail, keying in messages into cell phones, PDAs and BlackBerrys while racing down the road, are indulging a dangerous habit.
"These devices are addictive, and people are not realizing that their behavior is dangerous," said Moriarty, a Democrat whose 11-year-old daughter once chastised him for checking his BlackBerry while stopped at a red light.
No one knows how many vehicular crashes are related to drivers distracted by text messaging, but anecdotal evidence is mounting. A fiery crash made headlines in June when five female friends died in a collision with a tractor trailer just a week after graduating from their suburban Rochester, N.Y., high school. Police discovered the teenage driver had been texting moments before the crash. Similar accidents are happening with increasingly regularity nationwide.
Sundeen cites two reasons for the proposed legislation: the growing sophistication of cell phones that are increasingly catered to texting and, perhaps more important, the growing number of "high-profile accidents—and those always tend to translate into legislation."
Though lawmakers have historically been divided on requiring drivers to use hands-free devices when talking and driving, increased efforts to crack down on text messaging may give new momentum to bills to regulate traditional Cell Phones/ PDAs/ BlackBerrys use.
One April 2006 study found that 80 percent of crashes, and 65 percent of near crashes, are caused by distractions -- from putting on makeup to writing and eating. And teens say that texting is their No. 1 driving distraction, according to another 2006 study from Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).
A study conducted by Nationwide Mutual Insurance that was released this year found that 19% of all drivers -- and 37% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 27 -- text message behind the wheel. DWT seems particularly common among kids.
A study conducted by the state of Washington in 2006 blamed "driver distractions" for 7.5% of the 50,000 reported accidents during the first nine months of that year. Of that number, the study said distractions prompted by "operating a handheld communications device," including text messaging, came in fifth, statistically in line with the grab-bag category of "driver interacting with passengers, animals or objects."
"I realized how much attention it takes, and I found out they were doing it routinely while driving," House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam. said. "If you can imagine reading and writing while operating a vehicle, you see the distraction is too dangerous."
In a 2006 joint report issued with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the institute found 78% of crashes involved a driver distracted within three seconds before an accident. Talking on or dialing a cell phone accounted for 6% of crashes or near-misses.
Legislation to ban in different states:
Last year, nine states have considered legislation specifically banning driving while texting, or DWT. Washington became the first state to pass a law, which takes effect in January, making DWT a crime with a $101 fine.
A Harris Interactive survey commissioned by mobile messaging service Pinger Inc. found 89% of those surveyed believe texting while driving is dangerous and should be banned.
Now, at least 16 states are considering legislation that would outlaw or restrict the practice. "Certainly, texting is the issue du jour this year in the legislatures," says Matt Sundeen of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Drivers in Minnesota would be banned from texting, reading or sending electronic messages under a bill sent to Governor Tim Pawlenty. The texting ban is part of a transportation measure which also creates new restrictions on teenage drivers. Under the bill, texting while driving would become a petty misdemeanor.
State Senator Carl Marcellino, of Long Island, plans to announce an agreement to pass legislation banning texting while driving. Those in support of the bill say texting while driving forces drivers to take their eyes off the road, leading to accidents.
The proposed law, which is an amendment to the existing law that bans using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, would ban the writing, sending or reading of text messages on a mobile phone or any other portable electronic device while driving.
Drivers in Minnesota would be banned from texting, reading or sending electronic messages under a bill sent to Governor Tim Pawlenty. The texting ban is part of a transportation measure which also creates new restrictions on teenage drivers.
People in New York State are already banned from talking on their hand-held cell phones while driving. Now, a state senator wants to ban text messaging while driving, as well. State Senator Carl Marcellino, of Long Island, plans to announce an agreement to pass legislation banning texting while driving.
Three Canadian provinces have been proactive and implemented bans on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec have enacted laws modifying their existing highway traffic or motor vehicle legislation banning the use of hand-held devices that include telephone and text messaging functions while driving in cars and trucks.
Because legislation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving has expanded to several jurisdictions, they wanted to know in our latest poll if our readers intended to implement a cell phone usage policy. The majority of respondents (37.88%) said “Yes”, while 29.55% said they already had one. Surprisingly, 21.21% of respondents did not intend to implement such a policy, while 11.36% did not see the need for such a policy.
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