A recent Virginia Tech study shows that dialing a cell phone makes a driver 2.8 times more likely to crash than one who is undistracted. Talking on the phone makes a driver 30 percent more likely to crash. While these numbers clearly show the dangers of cell phone use while driving, they pale in comparison to what a related study of truck drivers indicated about texting: Drivers sending text messages are 23 times more likely to crash than undistracted drivers.
The dangers of texting are obvious. Sending a text message requires a person to take his or her eyes off the road and the traffic ahead. The study showed that texting drivers had their eyes off the road and on their cell phones for almost the entire six seconds immediately prior to crashing.
Researchers put video cameras inside truck cabs to track and record eye movements of 203 truck drivers over three million miles on the road.
Widespread agreement is developing among law enforcement officials that texting while driving should be banned. But they acknowledge that enforcing such laws can be difficult because it is not readily apparent to an outside observer if a driver is sending a text message while behind the wheel. Seventeen states have texting bans already. Nevada, however, does not ban or restrict texting or cell phone use while driving.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is calling for a nationwide ban on texting. The federal government is said to be considering tying such a ban to federal road funds. If states refuse to enact the ban, they may lose some funding for highway projects.
Nearly half of drivers between ages 18 and 24 say they have sent a text message while driving, according to a survey by FindLaw.com. More than a quarter of drivers between 25 and 34 admit to texting while driving, too. Unsurprisingly, the percentages drop as age increases: Only one percent of drivers over the age of 65 say they have sent a text message while driving.