Americans Request on Stricter Enforcement for Text-While-Driving
71 percent of teens admit to composing text messages while driving, and 78 percent admit to reading text messages while driving. Doing other activities such as texting while driving, referred to as “distracted driving” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, has become an epidemic in recent years. In 2012 alone, 3,328 people were killed as a result of distracted driving car accidents. So it’s no wonder that on Thursday, June 26, a survey found that more Americans than ever are calling for stricter enforcement of texting-while-driving laws and penalties.
In a poll conducted by the National Safety Council, 73 percent of people surveyed were in favor of more enforcement of texting and driving laws, compared to 22 percent who were satisfied with current distracted driving enforcement. Safety Council president and CEO Deborah Hersman noted in a council news release that the increased public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving has been a long time coming. “For years, there has been widespread opposition to texting behind the wheel,” she stated. “Today, the polls show the public is behind stronger penalties because most people recognize that it will take more than awareness campaigns to stop this dangerous behavior.”
The poll, which was released as a part of National Safety Month in June, also inquired about solutions to distracted driving. When asked about what penalties should be put in place for violators, 52 percent of respondents were in favor of a point system, in which offenders would gather points that could result in higher insurance costs or the loss of the driver’s license. About half of respondents were for large fines for violators, and half were in favor of different levels of penalties depending on the amount of offenses.
Currently, there are no states that ban all cellphone use while driving. However, 13 states and the District of Columbia ban the use of handheld cellphones by drivers, while 44 states and the District of Columbia ban texting and driving.
According to the National Safety Council, talking on a cellphone while driving is a factor in 21 percent of crashes, while an additional 5 percent can be attributed to texting while driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” including talking or texting on a cellphone, eating or drinking, talking with passengers, reading, grooming, or using a navigation system or music playing device. However, they cite texting while driving as the most dangerous type of distracted driving, since it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention by the driver. What’s more, in the time it takes to read a text messages- 5 seconds on average- a car going at 55 mph travels the length of a football field.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
The National Safety Council has several tips for preventing distracted driving, such as:
- Make a personal pledge to not use a cellphone while driving.
- Turn off your cellphone or put it on silent while driving
- If you are in a car with a driver who is using a cellphone, ask them if you can take the call for them, or if the call can wait
- Record your cellphone’s voicemail message telling callers you are away from the phone or driving, and you can call back when you are off the road.
- If you are talking to someone on the phone who is driving, tell them they can call you back later