The New York Times is reporting that a soon to be released study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows the risk of texting while driving is far more dangerous than previously thought. The new study, financed in part by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that the collision risk for those texting while driving is 23 times greater than when not texting. Rich Hanowski, who oversaw the study at the institute stated in his interview with the New York Times that
texting is in its own universe of risk
The study was performed by
outfitting the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras over 18 months, found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.
The study also found that
In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.
Although the article does not have a complete summation of the study’s finding, it is scary that any semi driver is texting while driving. As quoted above, these deadly tractor-trailers are covering the length of a football field while looking at their texting devices. When an 80,000 lbs truck covers this much ground with the driver distracted, it is obviously a recipe for disaster. Trucking accidents are deadly by nature and we cannot allow a distraction that increases collisions to this degree to remain legal.
As we speak today I am only aware of 14 states that ban texting while driving. Oklahoma does not. Driving, whether via CDL or an every day automobile, is a privilege granted by the state. Contrary to what my teenager and many people think, driving is not a right and should not be afforded to those who would so callously disregard the safety of others. I’ve personally seen children and adults alike killed in accidents by distracted drivers. I have a wife and three beautiful girls who I send out on our state’s highways daily. I cannot and do not want their lives endangered by people texting while driving. The time has come for Oklahoma’s legislature to address this serious danger to our public’s well being in the next legislative session.