What Would It Take to Stop Texting While Driving?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We all know we shouldn’t text while driving. According to the National Safety Council, it’s the cause of 25 percent of all car accidents. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it's six times more dangerous than drinking and driving.

And yet, many of us do it. Psychology Today reports that up to 97 percent of teens text while driving, and that 77 percent of teens have witnessed their parents texting while driving.

What would it take for us to change our behavior?

The most obvious answer might be to pass laws against texting while driving. And 39 states, as well as Washington D.C., have. This Friday, State Senator Mark Montigny of Massachusetts will try to take the laws even further, when he re-files his bill with the legislature calling for a complete ban on all cell phone use in cars – including hands-free use.

But in the meantime: How do you enforce the existing laws? Can you really prove that a driver is texting — as opposed to looking at a map or changing the song on their device when you pull him or her over?

Lt. Victor Flaherty of the West Bridgewater Police works to enforce the Massachusetts anti-texting laws that went into effect in 2010.


Lt. Victor Flaherty

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer and Elizabeth Ross

Comments [7]

Take Away Texting... I googled it and here I am. Where is the advantage to texting? This vanity product is percieved a neccesity today!!! By whom? the teens and now adaults that don't talk to their kids or each other enough. For those of us that recall the Franklin Close, pros on the left and cons on the right. This product causes death, missunderstandings, faceless bullying and a deterioration of communications. This would be a great site and hopefully organization to start a call to TAT Take Away Texting
E-mails are bad enough, texting has caused more pain than gross income except for the cell companies.

Feb. 10 2013 12:14 AM
tryduck from Earth

All I have to say is , its ok for police and government people to drive around with their laptops and digital radios mounted to be used while driving but its not ok for people to use phone while they drive? Its ok for them to take their attention away from driving while they run plates and type on their console mounted laptops,Tune in different channels on their digital radios and talk on their cell phones and public cant? Its ok for parking authorities to drive around in their plate checking vans.While checking plates on dash mounted laptops for violators to tow vehicles on our city streets where it only takes a split second for a pedestrians to walk between parked cars,that makes sense! Its not enough the very police/EMS/Government violate the very laws the public is forced to follow, we have to add more?I say laws are for all! want to help then make a agency to watch/fine the police/ems/government from breaking the very same laws! I bet you would get more attention from shooting a police officer then a average citizen, now that's very sad ! Laws should be enforced for ALL not just selected, thought we were past this segregation stuff!To top it off Lets make every new vehicle with a touch screen that controls everything in vehicles now too, that wont take attention away from drivers......

Jan. 25 2013 12:01 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

Unlike printed paper, mobile phones are backlit and have adjustable fonts making them easy to read. These factors are necessary for reading text in a moving vehicle. Mobile phone makers can EASILY make screens go dim when it's built-in GPS receiver senses the user is traveling over 10 MPH. The drawback is that non-driving passengers will have to strain more to read their texts and e-mails. But drivers (and train operators) will be so inconvenienced that they will have to use a text-to-voice feature or simply wait until they've stopped or pulled over. This feature will not be optional or adjustable. "Better living through technology."

Jan. 24 2013 10:28 AM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

Might make more sense if (at the very beginning):

"being exposed to the consequences."


"being [informed of] the consequences."


Jan. 18 2013 06:53 PM
unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

I can count on one hand the number of drivers who've decided not to drink, to exceed the speed limit (all those portable speed indicators / reminders on the road blinking at you when you exceed the limit), to drive recklessly in any form or measure by being exposed to the consequences.

Two things help: consequences, consequences that result in either prohibitive disability or death (permanent prohibition). Suspending or revoking licenses, taking away driving privileges, taking away cars hasn't made a difference.

We, as a society, wear the saying, "rules were made to be broken" as a badge of honor, something to strive for and celebrate.

We abide them long enough to get the coveted drivers license. After that, we treat them as negotiable, optional. The behavior Michel Martin talked about in a commentary:


is certainly indicative. How much effort does it take, how much time is lost for the sake of being considerate? I would submit precious little.

In a nation that at the very top seems to value contention, obstruction, and delay more than cooperation or consensus (note I did NOT mention a particular party nor do I have one in mind), any wonder that the many examples of competition over cooperation in our society point us towards being thoughtless, inconsiderate, mindless of the consequences, winner take all, end and the means mentality. There are acts of kindness and of thoughtfulness, but, unfortunately an exception rather than a rule.

I don't have (have never owned) a smartphone. The issue is largely moot for me except for having to suffer the consequences of those who do, who can and do text while driving. Let's not kid ourselves. Before texting, it was something else. If not for texting it would be something else. But, that's largely irrelevant. Regardless of what it is, has been, or likely would be, it's the reason for the rules and the rule enforcement. Left to our own devices (no pun intended) we're rebels.

Rules and rule enforcement put the civil in civilized.

And when the rules and the rule enforcers get out of line? Well, we'll talk about it and hopefully DO something about it - as we always have.

Jan. 18 2013 07:58 AM
Susan from Bergen Cty, NJ

Seems like a much more effective "cure" or preventative measure would be to build a simulator that puts drivers through accidents caused by texting. The simulator would not be able to be beaten, so that, the result would only be the fear factor achieved by going through the accident, but also creating a memory of what will possibly happen when texting while driving.

Jan. 17 2013 03:45 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Obviously,Texting and driving should become part of Driver's Ed, thereby cutting death by texting in half.

Jan. 17 2013 01:37 PM

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