Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ban Texting While Driving, Round Two at Capitol

Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) is calling on lawmakers to ban texting while driving. “Texas knows this is a dangerous habit. Laws already exist restricting texting and driving among minors, school bus drivers, and those driving in school zones. But a statewide ban will help save more lives,” Representative Craddick said in a press release issued yesterday. The Texas Medical Association agrees.

Last legislative session, a similar bill passed both the House and the Senate before Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it. This session, Representative Craddick hopes the governor changes his mind. “I believe a ban on texting while driving will help save lives.”

Reading a text message while driving is a particularly dangerous form of distracted driving because it involves not just visual but also manual and cognitive attention. The average text message requires six seconds of what is essentially blind driving — six seconds focused on a tiny screen and not the road. At 55 mph, those six seconds translate to 100 yards, or the length of a football field. So it comes as no surprise that a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that when drivers text, they are 23 times more likely to crash. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, last year distracted driving caused more than 81,000 collisions and claimed more than 360 Texans, many of whom were children and teenagers.

Texting while driving is epidemic among teens. The Pew Research Center discovered that 40 percent of all U.S. teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger. This is a sobering statistic given the fact that car accidents are the leading cause of death for Texans aged 1-19.

In addition to saving lives, a ban on texting while driving will save money, too. Distracted driving costs the U.S. economy $3.58 billion each month. Statewide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that on-and-off-the-job traffic injuries cost Texas businesses $4.3 billion annually in the form of lawsuits, medical bills, property damage, and lost work.

See past Me And My Doctor blog posts:
Drive Text-Free this Holiday Season
Health Hazard: Texting While Driving

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