Federal Texting While Driving Legislation

July 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's against the law to text while driving in California, but in 36 other states it's still legal. An eye-opening new study is prompting some lawmakers to take drastic action. It's widely known, taking your eyes off the road to type a text message is extremely dangerous. But a lot of people still do it.

In a widely circulated video, a Texas bus driver looks up from his keypad far too late and crashed his bus.

Texting while driving is even more dangerous than driving drunk. That should settle into people's minds.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer and three other senators are sponsoring legislation they hope will make texting and e-mailing behind the wheel illegal.

They referenced a newly released study from Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute. "The most alarming result we found is that texting while driving is 23-times more dangerous than just driving by itself; and that's a huge number," said Tom Dingus with the Transportation Institute.

Senator Bob Menendez (D) New Jersey said, "I cannot say it was surprising, knowing full well the concentration it takes for me to use my blackberry when I'm rushing to a vote, and that is on foot."

To illustrate the risk of how quickly a crash can happen, the study measured time frames of six seconds and found when drivers were texting- they took their eyes off the road for five of those six seconds. "So if you look at highway speeds going at say 55 miles per hour; that would take you more than the length of a football field without your eyes on the forward roadway," said Rich Hanowski with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Lawmakers say recent deadly mass transit accidents in Boston and L.A. prompted the legislation. In both incidents, operators texted on their cell phones while driving.

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