'No texting' is the new 'no smoking.'
Obama, carmakers, state governments, and citizens have rallied in support of legislation that would ban drivers from texting on cell phones while driving.
Sending text messages while driving --or "distracted driving" -- has been likened to drunk driving given the increased risk that it poses for drivers. New research, reported by the New York Times, found that the risk of collision is 23 times higher for drivers that text than for drivers that keep their hands off their phones.
Doubtful? Try an interactive game from the New York Times that allows you to test how how external distractions can affect your reaction time.
Even if you think you can drive fine while BBMing, texting, or emailing, if you're a federal employee or a resident of one of the 18 states that have limited texting, you'll have to put down your phone.
President Obama has banned government employees from texting and driving while on the job, operating a federal vehicle, or using a government-supplied cell phone, Ars Technica reports. The new law will affect 4.5 million employees.
The Obama administration doesn't plan on stopping there: they're also pushing to limit text messaging by interstate bus drivers and truckers, and are encouraging state governments to pass similar bans on distracted driving, writes the New York Times.
Many states, including California, New York, New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon, have also passed laws to curb distracted driving. Check out an interactive map of the United States at NPR, to see which states had laws in place as of September 2009, or a complete list at the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA).
Support for texting bans has come from automakers and citizens alike. A New York Times/CBS poll found that ninety percent of adults say sending a text message while driving should be illegal. Reuters writes that even the wireless industry has voiced support:
The wireless industry -- including cellphone manufacturers, carriers, and some Internet companies represented by the CTIA-Wireless Association -- also believes texting "is incompatible with safe driving."
An ongoing series by the New York Times, "Driven to Distraction" chronicles the dangers of drivers using cellphones and other electronic devices, as well as efforts to curb the vice.
Learn more about texting while driving -- including research, accidents, and laws -- on Wikipedia here.
We text while we drive, but also while we walk, talk, eat, watch, listen, pay, hug, love, and learn -- and even when we're in the bathroom.
Do you set your own texting limits -- or do you wish you could? When do you unplug and why? When does 'second-hand texting' drive you crazy? Tell us below!
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