2012-03-07 / Opinion

Other Editors Say... Send A Message: Texting While Driving Can Be Deadly And State Should Make It Illegal

Scientific studies and tragic news stories illustrating the danger of texting while driving have failed to persuade a certain stubborn subset of people, who insist that they are so much more skilled behind the wheel than everyone else that they can safely type a message or read a tiny screen while they drive.

Since they won’t listen to reason, it’s time for the Ohio legislature to mandate some real consequences to get their attention.

The Ohio House passed a bill in June making texting while driving a primary offense statewide, which means that when police see a driver texting, they can pull him over without needing a different offense, such as reckless driving, to justify the stop.

The Senate Transportation Committee was to begin hearing testimony on House Bill 99 on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

AAA reports that of its 2 million Ohio members, 93 percent support a statewide ban. And if this bill passes, Ohio will join 34 other states that already have banned texting for drivers.

Attitudes evolve and behavior tends to change when citizens are aware that a law exists. For example, drunken driving used to be much more accepted in society than it is today, but harsher penalties and social disapproval have changed that attitude.

In 2008, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers were 23 times more likely to cause a crash or a near-crash while texting; texters diverted their attention from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, long enough at 55 mph to travel the length of a football field.

Car and Driver magazine conducted a test in 2009 with its staffers, and their braking reaction times were significantly worse while they were texting than after they’d had several alcoholic drinks.

Traveling at 70 mph, one test subject traveled 4 feet farther when he was drunk than when sober, but 70 feet farther when he was texting.

Some opponents have made the bogus argument that a texting ban violates a driver’s personal freedom. Personal freedom hits its limit when it threatens the safety of others.

When a person applies for a driver’s license, he is agreeing to follow the state’s traffic laws.–Columbus Dispatch

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