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Survey: Driving while texting should be illegal

Congress may consider nationwide ban.

By Karen Datko Sep 28, 2009 6:13PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

The vast majority of U.S. drivers believes handheld texting while driving is very dangerous and should be banned nationwide, according to a new survey.

 

The survey, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates on behalf of the Ford Motor Co., found that 86% of U.S. drivers believe handheld texting while driving is "very dangerous" and 93% support a nationwide ban on it.

At the same time, only 42% of those asked think drivers would stop texting behind the wheel if the practice were banned. However, more than 75% say there would be more compliance if hands-free or voice-activated technologies were widely available.

 

"Research shows that activity that draws drivers' eyes away from the road for an extended period while driving, such as text messaging, substantially increases the risk of accidents," said Jim Vondale, director of Ford's Automotive Safety Office. "That is why we support a nationwide ban on handheld texting while driving and why Ford has developed hands-free and voice-activated technologies to allow drivers to remain connected, but to do so while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road."

 

Ford last week endorsed a proposed nationwide ban on handheld texting introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, both New York Democrats.

 

The survey shows that 67% of drivers said they believe voice-activated technology is a safe alternative to texting, and 76% said it would be an appealing feature in a car.

 

The survey results come as the U.S. Department of Transportation is scheduled to host a summit on driver distraction in Washington, D.C.

 

According to the survey, there is confusion among drivers over existing state laws prohibiting handheld cell phone use and/or texting while driving. A total of 18 states have enacted such bans, but nearly 40% of drivers in those states indicated they were unaware of the ban.

 

Research on driving solutions

According to an NHTSA-sponsored 100-car study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, driver inattention that may involve looking away from the road for more than a few seconds is a factor in nearly 80% of accidents.

 

"A growing number of drivers are using handheld wireless communications and music-playing devices while driving," said Louis Tijerina, Ford senior technical specialist. "Research clearly shows that manual operation of those devices that takes the driver's eyes from the road for an extended period of time creates the kind of distraction that causes accidents."

 

In addition, said Jeff Greenberg, senior technical leader for Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, "Our studies show that teens are much more willing to take risks while driving, such as manually dialing on a mobile phone in situations that demand greater attention."

 

Related reading at ConsumerAffairs.com:

Published Sept. 28, 2009

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