Nearly anyone paying attention while driving around the southland has likely noticed an increase in the number of other drivers not paying attention to driving. How many times have you observed the driver in the car in front of you looking down while their car remained motionless for seconds after the stoplight turned green?
Now there are some new numbers that suggest that people really don’t have their eyes on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published the results of a new survey saying that the number of drivers of texting while driving went up 50 percent in 2010. Eighteen percent of all drivers surveyed admitted to sending text messages while behind the wheel - and younger drivers are the most willing to admit that they do, with 50 percent of drivers between 21 to 24 years of age saying that they have sent texts from the driver’s seat.
Thirty-five states currently have laws banning texting while driving and some are calling for a nationwide ban on texting in the car. Smart phones are far more than just phones - they’re little computers, and drivers now have the entire cyber universe at their fingertips. But should they keep their eyes on the road and their hands upon the wheel?
Do you text while driving? What can the laws say to keep people focused on where they’re going?
Barbara Harsha, Executive Director, Governor’s Highway Safety Association
Leland Tang, California Highway Patrol officer