The Push to Ban Driving While Texting

Everyone agrees it's a wise idea, but reform may be harder than driving safely while thumb-typing.

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After the New York Times' devastating report on the 23-fold risk of driving while texting, no blogger in the world spoke up for the virtues of thumbing digits behind the wheel. (If there is one, please let us know.) Instead there was an avalanche of agreement that texting was obviously a hazardous distraction, even though it is still legal in many states.

The crescendo of opinion has already yielded fruit. A group of Democratic senators have proposed a national ban on texting while driving.

As the issue takes center stage, here's a primer on the reasons commentators might agree to the ban:

  • Would we allow reading behind the wheel? "Even the most adept multi-tasker would have trouble concentrating on the road while creating the content of the message, manipulating a tiny keyboard, and occasionally glancing at the screen -- all the while steering a multi-ton vehicle through city and highway traffic" LA Times
  • Only the government can stop it. "I’m usually of the opinion that the government should let us all get on with our own lives, with none of the nanny state mentality...However, when an activity some people are partaking in is affecting others, and putting their lives at risk, it’s clearly then time to step in." Tech Blorge
  • "Busy" people will text as long as it's legal. "This being D.C, people here are very, very important and must always be checking emails and texts. That's more important than paying attention to the road." AMERICA Blog
  • It's as bad as drunk driving. "Hands-free devices, meanwhile, don’t eliminate these risks...In fact, they may worsen them by giving drivers a false sense of security." WSJ

But even with this agreement, will banning text be so simple? Pulling against these rational reasons, of course, is force of habit. As Ben Smith reported yesterday, even prospective candidates for Senate feel comfortable announcing on their Facebook walls:

"Still considering a run for Senate - miscommunication on my part with Howey...that's what happens when I text while driving!"

And there are plenty of Twitter users still plucking their keyboards in the car:

driving in this maelstrom is ridiculous

ah! I hate driving this stupid van

driving home

Even in this rare, one-sided debate, it may take some time for reality to catch up.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.