No place for texting behind the wheel

Published 9:09 pm Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cell phones and distracted drivers are a perilous combination. Add texting to the equation, with the driver peering down at a tiny screen and pounding out a message with one hand off the steering wheel, sometimes both hands, and the risk rises exponentially. …

Shamefully, government research about this issue in 2003 got buried, kept out of public view until two consumer advocacy groups uncovered the cover-up. The findings show the extreme danger cell phones pose in a moving vehicle.

Researchers with the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration came up with startling statistics, blaming 955 deaths and 240,000 accidents in 2002 on drivers preoccupied with cell phones.

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Even hands-free headsets are dangerous because the phone conversation distracts the driver’s attention away from the road and traffic.

Because of the proliferation of cell phones over the past seven years, those statistics would be much higher today.

Back in 2003, those researchers recommended drivers avoid using wireless devices except in emergencies and they proposed a long-term study. But the NHTSA squelched the proposal and buried the report over politics, fearing Congress would cut agency funding if it lobbied states for laws.

That’s a disgrace to public safety and society. …

Texting while behind the wheel goes beyond irresponsible into reckless behavior that threatens public safety. It should be banned. …

– Bradenton (Fla.) Herald,