THUMB DRIVING

A recent study documenting results from six million miles of driving found that driving while handling text messages on a cell phone increase the chances of crashing or nearly crashing by a factor of 23 times. Talking on a cell phone doubled your chance of crashing.

The study was done by the Virginia Tech University Transportation Institute and came to the unsurprising conclusion that driving while texting should be banned, and that cell phone use should be banned for all newly-licensed drivers. A similar study done a few years earlier by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came to very much the same conclusions but was not released to the public. Two consumer groups had to file a law suit to get the government to release it.

The danger of crashes has become greater of course as there are many more drivers sending or receiving text messaging or talking on cell phones now. Six states have passed laws banning the use of cell phones and text devices while driving. But the problem with such bans is the difficulty of enforcement. A policeman seeing and stopping a driver talking on their phone while driving must face the driver’s explanation that they weren’t really talking but had simply picked it up before pulling over to use it. How do you refute such an excuse? The experience of both of us while driving is that we see a dozen of more other drivers talking or texting in a 15-minute drive. Very dangerous.

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