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Anti-texting while driving movement heats up

By Layer 8 on Mon, 03/26/07 - 11:34am.

Legislatures on both coasts are looking at developing laws against texting (ala Blackberries and other devices) and driving. Three South Jersey lawmakers say texting while driving is even more dangerous than using a cell phone because it requires drivers to divert their hands and eyes. And according to a Philadelphia Inquirer story they've introduced a bill to ban it.

And they aren't the only ones. Washington's legislature has a pending bill making it a primary offense to text and drive. "Primary" means law officers can stop anyone they see texting behind the wheel; they do not need another reason to make the stop. The state House already approved the bill, backed by the Washington State Patrol. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joyce McDonald, would let the state fine drivers who try the dangerous combination of activities. Multi-tasking at the office is one thing, multi-tasking in the car quite another, the say. The fine is a $101. Oregon has a similar bill on the table.

These moves are likely only yht tip of the iceburg. Until now anti-cellphone while driving legislation has garnerd most lawmaker's attention. New Jersey is one of only four states to actually ban cell-phone use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; Washington D.C. has a similar ban. But New Jersey's law, unlike those of the other states', prohibits officers from pulling over offending drivers unless the drivers are violating another law.A 2006 study by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. found that 73% of drivers talk on cell phones while driving. But it also showed that texting was becoming more prevalent, with nearly a fifth of drivers admitting they typed while driving.