Either members of the U.S. Senate have been reading this blog…or they’ve been reading studies from major universities. Really, it’s a toss up. Either way, the New York Times reports that some senators are taking action on an issue I’ve written about here a couple of times: texting while driving.
You may recall that there was some fuss about a hand held cell phone ban being implemented for Oregon drivers, triggering some renewed disagreement about whether or not the “hand held” part made a difference compared to a hands-free conversation. Whatever your opinion is on that topic, you have to believe that texting while driving is significantly more dangerous than talking while driving. And you’d be proven right by a couple of recent major university studies that show that texting while driving increases your chance of accident by 23 fold.
However, as I’ve already reported, only 14 states have texting while driving bans. If that seems crazy to you, don’t worry, the U.S. Senate agrees with you. They introduced legislation yesterday that will seriously cut federal highway money for states who don’t have such a ban in place. Though regulation of the roadways is usually left to states, the federal government has put pressure on like this before. It’s not a conicidence that the legal drinking age in every state is 21. The federal government threatened to pull highway funding from any state where the age was lower than 21, and soon all the states had changed their laws. Expect the same to happen with texting and driving.
States are complaining because they aren’t sure how they’re going to enforce this type of ban. Cell phone ban enforcement has had mixed success so far–it’s hard to catch everyone. However, there are hopes that simply having the ban in place will raise awareness of the issue, and encourage people to form safe habits regarding phone use while driving.