Texting and Driving Up 50% Despite Laws Banning It

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

New statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that texting and driving has increased to 0.9 percent of drivers in 2010, up from 0.6 percent in 2009. The NHTSA derived these percentages by staking out selected stoplights and intersections to count people using cellphones and hand-held devices that allow them to text, to view directions, to check emails, and to play games.

However, in a separate telephone survey of drivers 18 percent said they’ve sent texts or emails while behind the wheel. That number jumps to half among young drivers ages 21 to 24. Most drivers will also answer a cellphone call while driving, and continue to drive while they talk, according to survey results.

Texting and driving, let alone cell phones and driving, are dangerous combinations are should not take place under any circumstance.Thirty-five states have completely banned the practice of texting and driving by all drivers. Another seven states have banned it for younger drivers. If unsure about what the laws are in your state, look them up, as some states (such as Utah) only make the use of cell phone illegal if a moving violation is also committed. It seems that it’s gonna take more than laws and educational campaigns to get drivers to change their behavior.

“It is clear that educational messages alone aren’t going to change their behavior,” said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, in the Wall Street Journal. “Rather, good laws with strong enforcement are what is needed. Many drivers won’t stop texting until they fear getting a ticket. The increase shows what an uphill challenge distracted driving remains.”

Distracted driving is also something that employers should think about because if an employee is on a work-related call or is reading a work-related text when driving, the employer could be held accountable. If the employee gets hurt in the accident, he or she can file for worker’s compensation, especially if the employer requires employees to watch their phones at all times.

The NHTSA reports 3,092 distraction-affected crash deaths in 2010. Why are drivers waiting until they get into a car accident, or are caught by a police officer, before changing their behavior and realizing the dangers of distracted driving? Drivers ought to be proactive, making changes before something happens and someone gets hurt.

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