You've heard of DUI, DWI, but now there is DWT, Driving While Texting. 2 States in the US have banned it, and more are likely to follow. Statistics are hard to come by, but mounting studies are suggesting that it's not only a common practice, but also as dangerous as Driving Under Influence and Driving While Intoxicated.
158 billion mobile text messages were sent in the U.S. in 2006, doubling 2005 figures. Newsmax has reported that in 2007, the average cellphone user sent 188 text messages per month, which equals roughly 2,256 texts a year. Nearly 5,000 text messages are sent every second in the UK. And all of these figures have one thing in common. They're all increasing by 30% or more.
Check your "blind" spot
This brings us to our problem, driving while texting. It might even better be called texting while driving, because more attention to the texting than the driving occurs. If you think about it long enough you'll likely come to an enlightening conclusion. If deaf people can drive, but the blind cannot, why would driving while texting not be banned? In fact, "According to a 2,049-person poll, demographically weighted proportionally to the US, 89% of adults think that text messenging while driving is 'distracting, dangerous and should be outlawed.'" Sadly, 66% of those polled do it anyway. (Gizmodo) What exactly would you consider to be safe things to do while texting? - Skateboarding? Biking? Probably not. Driving while texting is a new danger hindering yourself and those around you. Now those talking on the phone seem relatively harmless, compared to this new danger.
16 states are considering legislation that would outlaw or restrict the practice
"Washington banned the practice last May, and New Jersey followed suit in November. Similar bills are now in the works in Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia." (US News) It is no surprise that specific laws are being created outlawing texting.
At least while talking on the phone you had your eyes on the road. Only a "support" sense was distracted, hearing. While texting your eyesight is taken away, making you "legally blind", even if its only a couple of seconds to double check what you punched into your phone. Studies are in abstract form at the moment, but mounting anecdotes are causing concern. A bus driver injured 30 kids when he caused an accident driving while texting, severing the hand of one of the kids. In a different story, a "53-year-old driver of a blue Dodge Caravan was traveling north on Interstate 5 outside Seattle when he took his eyes off the road to scan an e-mail on his BlackBerry, the State Patrol says. And that's how he hit the white Mazda, which clipped the green Honda, which rammed the black Toyota SUV before spinning into the other lane and plowing into a city bus." (MSN)
That's just two incidents... Driving while texting is arguably as bad as driving while drunk, or even tired.
"An estimated 20 percent of drivers are sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel, according to a Nationwide Insurance study. And, according to another poll, that number skyrockets to 66 percent when drivers 18 to 24 are isolated." (US News)
The biggest issue with any legislation on banning DWT is enforcement. Since the phone isn't by the ear, it's held at least a 1/3 body lower, making it difficult if not impossible for an officer to spot. Some legislation looks at targeting age groups, making that even more difficult. If 16-18 year olds can't do it, then 19 year olds can. An officer can easily mistake that small age difference, and a law that targets new drivers may run into age discrimination lawsuits.
Perhaps the best solution is to implant cell phones into our brains...
evilmoxie says re "Driving While Texting: All too often I get texts from people that are like, oh shit I almost just hit something."
ascorbic says re "Driving while Texting: Using your phone at all while driving in the UK is illegal, and recent changes to sentencing guidelines mean that if you kill someone while driving, texting is an aggravating factor that could get you sent down for a long stretch."
ushdfgakjasgh says re "Driving while Texting: oh shit, i meant to upvote this - especially for the cell phones in brain concept, but i hit the downvote button, knock one off the downvote count, you know?"
Johnny says re "Driving While Texting: I read the lede in Cream of the Cool and I was positive that it was going to be "Driving While Texas." Oh well, this will do."
artman2003 says re "Driving While Texting: Maybe somebody a lot smarter than me could create software for phone that allowed you to speak into the phone and it would convert what you said to a text message. If you're going to argue Why not leave a voice message or call? you might as well argue against texting existing in the first place."
As of May 7, 2014, 43 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.
The last remaining states that allow the practice are Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.