Driving is an activity that most of us do, and which most of us do well. But even the best drivers still need to focus on the job in hand or risk causing an accident and possibly death and destruction. Drinking and driving is obviously frowned upon in all sensible counties, but texting while driving, which can be just as dangerous, isn’t treated as harshly.
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 that has become prevalent in the last 50 years. 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 and use the law as a protective precaution.
Texting while driving, and the dangers it causes to other road users, is a hot topic because only 14 U.S. states have currently banned the practice. Which means that in the vast majority of America, drivers can quite happily drive their car and text on their cell phone at the same time and not be punished if caught doing so.
The dangers of texting while driving have been studied and reported for a while now. In September 2008 a British study concluded that texting while driving was actually more dangerous than drinking and driving. And in June of this year a similar study in the States reached the same conclusion.
Now, according to The New York Times, the results of a full 18-month study of lorry drivers have just been released. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute fitted cameras inside the cabs of long-distance lorry drivers to see what effect texting while driving had in a real-world experience.
The study found that drivers typically spend five seconds looking at their cellphone prior to an accident or near-collision. Which is enough time for them to have traversed more than the length of a football field. What’s more, drivers who text while driving were found to have a 23 times greater than normal risk of crashing when doing so.
Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech institute said the results of the study send a clear and unequivocal message that, “You should never do this, it should be illegal.” I couldn’t agree more and I find it hard to understand why something isn’t being done of a national or even international level to outlaw this clearly stupid activity.