by Meagan Dorsch
The popularity and availability of cellular phone technology make it possible for anyone, anywhere, to be connected. In June 2005, about 57.2 billion text messages were sent in the United States. By 2008, that number skyrocketed to 600.5 billion. Many are concerned, however, that
sending text messages while driving is a traffic safety danger.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute say driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes. Because texting while driving is a relatively new activity, few studies have attempted to measure the distraction it causes.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance conducted a survey of 1,500 drivers. Nearly 40 percent of the teenagers and young adults surveyed admitted they send and receive text messages while driving. In the same study, 45 percent of all people surveyed reported they have nearly been hit by someone using a cell phone.
As of January 2009, eight states prohibit all drivers from texting while driving.
In this edition of The Buzz, we talk with Anne Teigen, transportation policy expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures about the dangers of texting while driving. Listen to our podcast (6:40) and learn why this type of distracted driving is catching the eye of law enforcement and legislatures.