OUR OPINION: Shift ban on texting into high gear
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Last week’s blizzard curbed state Senate action on a bill to expand the prohibition on texting while driving in Missouri.
Now that streets have been cleared and the legislative session has reopened, it’s time for lawmakers to shift this proposal into high gear.
Senators last week gave first round approval to a measure prohibiting all motorists from texting — or, in the language of lawmakers, sending and reading text messages on hand-held communications devices while driving.
The proposal would expand the prohibition that now covers only those drivers under age 21.
While it may be ironic that the existing law applies only to the group of people perhaps most adept at the practice, it also indicates the overall danger of the texting while driving.
In the realm of driver distractions, texting ranks near the top.
Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Crystal City, cited a Car and Driver report that found texting while driving three times more dangerous than driving at the legal intoxication limit of .08 percent blood alcohol content.
In addition, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation website, www.distraction.gov:
• Among fatalities in distracteddriving crashes, 18 percent involved a cell phone. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
• Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Mixing driving with distractions is a lethal combination, particularly when the distraction requires diversion of eyes, hands and concentration.
Operating a motor vehicle is not a secondary activity. Driving is a privilege that requires motorists to obey the rules of the road and observe safe practices.
Texting while driving already has injured and killed too many people. To protect the motoring public, disconnect this deadly practice.