[qi:014] Democrats in Congress led by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., are set to unveil legislation today that would ban texting while driving across all 50 states, according to the Associated Press. Fourteen states already have bans in place, but with a new law, the federal government can add the threat of holding back federal highway funding to get the other states to comply. That financial threat is how the government managed to raise the drinking age to 21 from 18.
The efforts come after the release of a study showing that texting while driving increased the risk of an accident by 23 times. Imagine that — spending time hunting for letters on a tiny keyboard and staring at a screen while piloting a 1-ton machine that can travel down roads at speeds of 70 mph can increase your likelihood of an accident. However, folks do it all the time. It’s anti-social for drivers to place their own communication needs above the safety of fellow travelers on the road.
I don’t think legislation will do much to halt this, because it’s difficult to police people inside their cars. Perhaps making it a social stigma might help, although people still get behind the wheel of a car drunk. Of course, even if texting is banned, does that halt the instances of people looking up movie times on their phone while driving? Or futzing with a personal navigation device? Or engaging in complicated conversations on the highway? Do we really need to officially ban all of these things so people will realize that their needs and desires can’t always come before others’ safety?
This nifty chart by the Governors Highway Safety Association breaks down the assorted state driving laws surrounding the use of a phone in the car. For example, apparently in my home state of Texas bus drivers can’t text if there are people under the age of 17 riding the bus. I suppose those groups with anyone 18 and up getting ferried about are on their own. Maybe they can politely ask the driver to pay attention.