Please, Don’t Ban Texting While Driving!

September 29th, 2009
Sometimes, I think it's safe to text while behind the wheel

Responsible texting can be safe

I live in Washington state, which is one of many states to ban making phone calls on handheld devices while driving. No one actually pays attention to the ban, as evidenced by my recent count of six cars in a row with drivers chatting it up with phones glued to their ears.

An easy way around that ban is to send a quick text rather than having an entire conversation. Texting is faster and can be done at a red light in the time it takes for it to turn green, leaving time to devote the required attention to driving while still meeting my communication needs.

Now though, a group of 11 automakers has formed the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AMM) to push for an all-out ban on texting while behind the wheel.

I’m not going to say that I think texting while driving is completely safe… it’s far from safe when the car is moving. But I do believe there’s a time and a place where it’s OK, such as while stopped at a red light. In those few moments when I have nothing else to do, I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t send a note to my wife telling her I’m x-ited 2 C her 2 nite.

Then there’s this little contradictory gem: Some states offer a service sending text message updates on traffic and weather conditions. Will that be outlawed too? Reading a text message is probably more dangerous than sending one, as seasoned text pros can compose messages without even looking at their phones.

Texting while driving is often compared to drinking and driving, which I think is absurd since texting can done responsibly. (I’ve never known anyone who could be drunk only at red lights.) Drunk driving is a serious and dangerous offense… texting doesn’t have to be any more involved than changing the radio station or adjusting the iPod (uh-oh… watch iPod bans come next).

If I want to send and read texts when I feel it is safe to do so, I want that right. The biggest consequence I see is getting honked at for being a moment late in realizing the light turned green, and that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

What are your views on texting while driving? Should it be outlawed to text while behind the wheel?

-tgriffith

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  1. Kyle L.
    | #1

    I am going to have to disagree with you here. Like seatbelt laws, unless the law is there, nobody is going to do it. I agree that there is a responsible way of doing things. But unfortunately most people are not responsible. Usually it takes laws like this to instill some common sense into these people.

    When it comes to people’s lives, I prefer to address the lowest common denominator. I fall more in the camp of, it is better to inflict an inconvenience to the %1 percent of responsible people out there than to let the irresponsible 99% out there cause serious/deadly accidents.

  2. Kyle L.
    | #2

    @Kyle L.
    Another interesting question in all of this is how would anyone enforce this? It would probably make more sense to have a law stating, “you can never lift your eyes from the road”, but that would probably be too Drakonian ;)

  3. | #3

    Good points Kyle…
    I know in Washington, an officer can’t pull someone over just for talking on the phone. It’s a secondary offense, so if that person happens to be also speeding or runs a stop sign, the officer can slap ‘em with an extra hundred bucks or so on the ticket. I’m guessing texting laws would be similar, though they’d probably vary by state. I did hear that any state not making texting and driving illegal would not receive federal highway funds. Ouch. It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

  4. logic
    | #4

    here’s a better idea: why not mandate bluetooth hands-free speaker capability in all new cars built after say, 2010? it would add maybe $200 to the cost of the average car, and would provide people with a safe way to use their phone while driving. i personally find it much easier to call someone using my Motorola hands-free speaker, than try to text them while driving. if the government can mandate ABS, side airbags, 5-mph bumpers, etc., they should be able to mandate bluetooth hands-free as part of a vehicle’s safety package. DO IT!!

  5. | #5

    This argument makes no sense.

  6. smart
    | #6

    true

  7. | #7

    I tend to think that the dangers of texting while driving are overstated. If you look at the growth of texting, it occurs at a time when there are fewer and fewer car crashes.

  8. Tom
    | #8

    Also being a WA resident, I see blatant violators as well. If you haven’t already, visit ut.zerofatalities.com/ and see the video interview of Reggie Shaw, a 20-something who killed 2 innocent men while texting and driving. Then ask yourself, can I live with that if I were to do the same? Then there’s my 26 yr old daughter, who sold jewelry to a 16 yr old girl. Last weekend, this girl was on her hand held cell to her boyfriend, lost control and crashed. Her boyfriend heard her screams and the sounds of the crash that killed her. Even worse, my daughter happened to drive by while emergency crews were extricating her body. Is it really worth a life to play on your electronic device?

  9. tgriffith
    | #9

    @Tom
    Thanks for sharing that Tom. You’re right. Any small convenience a quick text offers is not worth anyones life.

  10. common sense
    | #10

    The folks at Car and Driver Magazine have now documented just dangerous it can be.

    Rigging a car with a red light to alert drivers when to brake, the magazine tested how long it takes to hit the brake when sober, when legally drunk at .08, when reading and e-mail, and when sending a text. The results are scary. Driving 70 miles per hour on a deserted air strip Car and Driver editor Eddie Alterman was slower and slower reacting and braking when e-mailing and texting.

    The results:

    Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake
    Legally drunk: add 4 feet
    Reading e-mail: add 36 feet
    Sending a text: add 70 feet

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/31545004

    wouldn’t be surprised how quick you get into an accident
    stupid argument id have to say

  11. luke
    | #11

    While you may be able to text only at red lights, most idiots won’t. It’s better to just ban it altogether. If it is really urgent, just pull off to the side of the road.

  12. | #12

    PLEASE before you saY DONT BAN THIS LAW. WATCH THIS, THIS IS REAL AND WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DebhWD6ljZs

    tHIS IS REAL AND REAL STORIES>>>AT&T Don’t Text While Driving Documentary<<<

  13. Jordan
    | #13

    your retarded, your the one who is going to kill someone on the roads, im scraed to drive becuase of drivers like you, you think this law is absurd, your absurbm in fact your assanyne. its embarassing to know that an ignorant cocky ass hole like you thinks your 10ft tall. you wont be 10ft tall when you kill someone and your in jail for homicide.

  14. Doc_Jensen
    | #14

    You guys are dumb i think people should have the common sense to know if they are actually good enough to txt and drive. I know plenty of people who dont even have to look while they are txting so it doesnt effect them what so ever! Also the states that had made txting against the law its just made more car crashes because instead of having it where they can see the road they having down low where the police cant see it which makes it way more dangerious thus causing more crashes.

  15. person
    | #15

    texting and driving is idiotic nonsence thousands of people die every year and many others are injured im against texting and driving im doing this topic for a persuasive essay give me your ideas though

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