Lawmakers in Washington DC Push to Ban Text Messaging While Driving

In Washington DC, a group of US Senators have introduced a bill that would mandate that all states develop laws that ban text messaging while driving—or face losing 25% of the federal highway funding doled out each year. The legislation gives states two years to write their own laws and establish deadlines.

The District of Columbia already has a ban on texting and using handheld cell phones while driving. At least 13 US states also have a texting while driving ban in place.

For some time now, people in DC and the rest of the United States have known that texting while driving is dangerous and increases the chances that a motorist will become involved in a District of Columbia motor vehicle crash. Drivers who are texting are not looking at the road. They are distracted because they are busy reading/sending/composing text messages. Also, in order to text while driving, a motorist must usually take at least one hand off the steering wheel.

The need to ban motorists from texting on the road became even more apparent last month, however, after findings from a study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reported that texting increased a truck driver’s chances of becoming involved in a truck accident by 23 times. The study also noted that right before near collisions or truck collisions involving texting drivers did happen, the trucker had spent almost 5 seconds glancing at the phone or PDA device. In that length of time, a motor vehicle traveling at highway speed can travel the entire length of a football field, passing a myriad of cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles along the way.

The federal government plans to hold a “distracted driving summit” in September so that academics, safety experts, police, elected officials, and others can discuss the bad habit that distracted driving has become.

There are far too many US traffic accidents occurring because a driver was texting or talking on a cell phone. People are dying, sustaining spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and other catastrophic injuries because a motorist couldn’t wait to make that call or check an incoming message.

Federal Agency Plans Distracted Driving Forum, NY Times, August 4, 2009
Bill Seeks to Ban Texting By Drivers, The Washington Post, July 30, 2009
In Study, Texting Lifts Crash Risk by Large Margin, NY Times, July 27, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association, August 2009
S.1536 – Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act of 2009, Open Congress, July 29, 2009

Texting while driving is negligent driving. Our Washington DC car accident lawyers can help you explore your legal options.

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