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No texting Sending a message to lawmakers

No texting Sending a message to lawmakers


Tulsa World's Editorial Writers

Published: 8/19/2009 2:22 AM
Last Modified: 8/19/2009 4:06 AM

An accident over the weekend apparently caused by a teenage driver sending a text message should send a message to the Legislature that action is desperately needed on this public safety issue.

Text messaging is a dangerous habit because it distracts drivers. Three-fourths of auto crashes, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, involved a driver distracted within the three seconds before an accident. Umpteen studies have validated that fact. Yet lawmakers have never even had a thorough, thoughtful debate on the matter. The Legislature does not go back into session until February but lawmakers need to make this a top priority.

The latest text-messaging-relating accident occurred Sunday near the intersection of 23rd Street and Yale Avenue. The teen was texting when he looked up at the last second, swerved to avoid a car and crashed into a power pole. Two dozen homes were without power for four hours until a utility crew replaced the pole.

Texting while driving, of course, is not exclusive to teens. Plenty of older drivers put themselves and others at risk by dividing their attention to tap out a text on a cell phone keyboard. In doing so they turn a moving vehicle into a home office where their fingers do the talking, and the next thing they know they're exchanging insurance information with the driver of the car they just rear-ended. Or worse.

Teens, however, are by far the most likely age group to text.

Teens are the least experienced drivers and they hold
the highest auto accident rate per age group. For years automobile accidents have been the leading cause of death among this group; cell phones and texting have only exacerbated the danger.

Other states have adopted bans on texting for teens or bans on texting for all drivers, which seems the better approach.

For drivers, text messaging is an unsafe activity. We hope lawmakers finally will get the message and do something next year.

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