Reported vehicle accidents in
Statewide the trend is sharper, with a 63-percent increase in wrecks. That is not attributable merely to growth.
Texting might become more of a menace than driving under the influence. Part of that can be explained by a major change in social attitudes toward driving while intoxicated during the past 30 years, as well as stepped-up enforcement and increased penalties for DUI.
The state has prohibited texting while driving since 2013, but the statute lacks the teeth of the mandatory seat belt law. Failure to wear a seat belt is a primary offense, meaning police can pull over and ticket a driver if they observe him violating the law, whereas texting behind the wheel is a secondary offense -- police need another reason, such as speeding, to stop a motorist, in addition to witnessing the person driving and texting at the same time. Although 46 states and the
But as with drunk driving and seat belt usage, mindsets toward phone use while driving must change as well. The technology exists to prohibit texting while a car is moving, and service providers and insurance companies could create incentives for drivers to utilize such features on their phones. Continuing intensive public service campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving also could modify behaviors, as they have with DUI and safety belts.
Ultimately, all this could become moot with the advent of driverless cars. Although the technology raises other problematic issues, computers aren't subject to the same distractions humans are. Until then, though, policymakers and the public must do more to make the roads safer from addictive smartphones.
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