Senators Push Driving While Texting Ban


As if you needed anymore proof that texting while driving is dangerous, a group of four U.S. senators wants to ban texting while driving so that you know it’s dangerous. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), and Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) have proposed legislation called the ALERT Act. This would ban car and truck drivers, and those who operate mass transit from sending or receiving texts. It would be up to the Department of Transportation to set compliance guidelines if the bill passes.

Sen. Schumer said that states that do not enact text-banning within two years could lose a quarter of their highway funds. This is certainly an incentive to make sure even the most libertarian of states enacts this law. However, even if a state was non-compliant, they could recoup those losses once they met the bill’s standards.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia already have laws that bar texting while driving. Three of them are states of the bill’s sponsors. Schumer’s home state of New York does not ban texting while driving, but bars the use of handheld phones while driving. A cell phone industry group called CTIA supports the legislation.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, cited by the senators, found that truck drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident or be involved in a near-accident than drivers who were not distracted. The study found that a driver’s eyes were off the road for almost five seconds while they were testing. This activity is riskier than talking, listening, dialing, or reaching for an electronic device, according to the study.

For examples of why you should not text while driving, you need look no further than the September 2008 train accident in southern California in which a commuter train collided with a freight train. Twenty-five people were killed and 101 were injured. However, many auto accidents that make the local news across the country have texting while driving as the reason for the crash.