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Published on Aug 11, 2009 by Edgar Snyder

National Texting While Driving Ban Proposed

Texting while driving poses a huge crash risk

Several lawmakers have come together to propose a national ban on texting while driving. The senators recommended that states face a 25 percent cut in highway funding if they don't implement a ban on texting behind the wheel.

The proposal authors cited various studies on the dangers of using handheld devices while driving, including one by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute which found that when drivers of heavy trucks texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting. A separate report by Car and Driver magazine found that texting and driving poses more of a risk than drunk driving.

One week after the senators unveiled their proposal, the secretary of transportation announced plans for a "distracted driving summit," tentatively scheduled for September. The meeting would give safety experts, academics, elected officials, the police, and others an opportunity to discuss legal and policy changes.

Different groups are debating the merits of texting and driving laws. The Governors Highway Safety Association, a group of state safety agencies, opposes texting while driving but objects to laws that may not be enforceable. In response, safety advocates said that the same enforceability arguments surrounded seat belt laws but that those laws, even when not vigorously enforced, resulted in extensive behavioral changes.

"Federal Agency Plans Distracted Driving Forum." New York Times. August 4, 2009.
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