I’ve written many times about the dangers of driving while texting or talking on a cell phone. There have, of course, been bans on these activities put in place in California and several other states, but for reasons unknown to me, the rest of the nation hasn’t taken legal action to stop this dangerous behavior. Though I think a nationwide ban is in order, there’s been no mention of it so far.
However, according to Associate Press, there has been progress made on a national ban on cell phone use for commercial bus drivers, which is a step in the right direction. The ban was prompted by a 2004 incident in which a bus driver was so distracted that he failed to notice that the bridge he was about to drive under had a maximum height that was two feet lower than the height of his bus. He drove right into the bridge, sheering off the top of the bus “like a can of sardines,” and injuring 11 passengers.
Since the 2004 incident, various government agencies have been weighing the idea of a ban, trying to decide whether it shoudl apply to only buses, or to all commercial vehicles including trucks. They had originally hoped to have an answer by last October, but nothing was reported.
Now, a year later, safety advocates have filed a petition with the Transportation Department to get a ban on cell phones, texting devices, and any other electronic advices that pose a dangerous distraction to drivers.
From the Associated Press:
“What this petition is about is it’s saying, ‘Let’s get in front of the problem.’ There are a lot of technologies that are coming online that are going to be used by commercial operators — Internet access and what have you,” said Jacqueline Gillan, vice president for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
While I fully support the ban on all these devices for commercial vehicles, I want to know why it hasn’t been extended to all vehicles. After all the study results that show that texting or talking can increase your risk of an accident from between 4 fold and 32 fold, why allow it to be a legal activity?