Can You Text C – R – A- S – H?

Teenagers are a menace on the highways. Not only are they more likely than adults to drive recklessly under the influence of alcohol, they’re more likely to drive recklessly even when they’re not under the influence of alcohol — as in, when they’re “texting.” According to Tyler Whitley in the Times-Dispatch, a recent poll of 16- and 17-year-olds found that 46 percent said they send text messages while driving.

No sane person — which basically excludes all teenagers, who are driven by hormonal impulses that block the exercise of reason — would try to compose and send text messages while driving, no matter how dextrous their fingers and thumbs. Such an activity is only one step removed from reading a newspaper while behind the wheel. Some people might get away with it, but an elementary principle of safe driving is to keep your friggin‘ eyes on the road!

While I normally oppose the relentless incursion of the Nanny State into our lives, I think it’s only common sense to prohibit texting while driving. Thus, I support HB 39, submitted by Del. James M. Scott, D-Fairfax, that would prohibit “operation of a motor vehicle, bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped on the highways in the Commonwealth while using any wireless telecommunications device for the purpose of sending, receiving, or reading any text message.”

Scott conceded that he had no statistics showing a connection between texting and driving accidents. But this is one of those rare cases in which no evidence is required. The prohibition, on its face, makes sense.

Just one question: What is a “personal assistive mobility device?” An electronic wheelchair?

Just one comment: If someone is crazy enough to whiz down “the highways in the Commonwealth” in a wheelchair while simultaneously blasting out text messages, I say, more power to them!

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5 responses to “Can You Text C – R – A- S – H?”

  1. Vivian J. Paige Avatar
    Vivian J. Paige

    And don’t forget all those adults with Blackberrys that do the same thing!

  2. Groveton Avatar

    Hard to see why your cell phone can’t receive text messages while you are driving (vs. you sending or reading those messages).

  3. Anonymous Avatar


  4. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Great post, but,

    The voice recogntion / Blue Tooth system in our car allows us to send text messages hands free…

    So the lawyers for the phone companies challenge the law…

    In the meantime no one inforces the law just as they do not enforce HOV regulations or the existing no cell in car laws…

    The big problem is not the phones or the calls or texting, it is that because of dysfunctions settlement patterns citizen of all ages spend too much time in the cars…

    For them phones are an excuse why spending time in a car is not a complete waste…

    More in “The Problem With Cars.”


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    I saw several news reports on the Internet discussing a study that concluded drivers using cell phones are a significant cause of traffic slow-downs.

    “Drivers talking on cell phones are probably making your commute longer, concludes a new study.
    Motorists yakking away, even with hands-free devices, crawl about 2 mph slower on commuter-clogged roads than people not on the phone, and they just don’t keep up with the flow of traffic, said study author David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

    “If you commute by car an hour a day, it could add about 20 hours a year to your commute, Strayer said.

    “The distracted driver tends to drive slower and have delayed reactions,” said Strayer, whose study will be presented to the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. “People kind of get stuck behind that person, and it makes everyone pay the price of that distracted driver.”

    “Strayer’s study, based on three dozen students driving in simulators, found that drivers on cell phones are far more likely to stick behind a slow car in front of them and change lanes about 20 percent less often than drivers not on the phone.

    “Overall, cell phone drivers took about 3 percent longer to drive the same highly traffic-clogged route (and about 2 percent longer to drive a medium congested route) than people who were not on the phone.

    “About one in 10 drivers is on the phone, so it really adds up, said Strayer, whose earlier studies have found slower reaction times from drivers on the phones and compared those reaction times to people legally drunk.

    “Strayer figures distracted drivers are adding an extra 5 to 10 percent of time to your commute.

    “It’s a matter of brain overload. Your frontal cortex can handle only so many tasks at one time, so you slow down, Strayer said.

    “How slow?

    “According to studies, distracted drivers tend to drive slower. Motorists talking on cell phones drive about 2 mph slower in heavy traffic, one study says.”

    Let’s ban cell phone use in moving cars and repeal the recent tax increases.


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