Poll: Do You Text and Drive?
Is a text exchange behind the wheel like driving drunk?
Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nation-wide ban on cell phone use while driving. The recommendation stems from an investigation into a 2010 crash in Missouri that resulted in a four-way pile up between two full school buses, a tractor trailer and a pickup truck that killed two people. The NTSB faulted the pickup driver, who was allegedly texting shortly before the accident.
It is already illegal to text and drive in Minnesota.
Critics of the NTSB proposal have called it "hysterical" and "unenforceable." An editorial in USA Today compared it to the 18th Amendment, which put the kibosh on booze from 1919 to 1933.
On the other hand, editorial writers at the Star Tribune argued that a prohibition on cell use is akin to the movement to put seat belt requirements into law during the 1980s—a statutory change that has significantly reduced roadside deaths.
Being distracted while driving can be a problem even for the law enforcement officers charged with enforcing the law.
A study this year found that nearly a quarter of the costs from squad-car crashes were due to officers being distracted by onboard computers and other devices. A Fridley officer was disciplined after such a crash in 2010.
Sometimes the presence of a phone is enough to cause a crash. In 2010 a driver reaching for a phone caused a three-car crash at 50th and Central avenues NE that killed a one-year-old boy in one of the cars.