Distracted driving has been a (if not the) top traffic safety priority of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood . The impact of texting and cell phone use while driving has been a hot topic among traffic safety circles and in state legislatures as well. Even Oprah has chimed in on the issue!
Last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) weighed in with a comprehensive review of distracted driving research, "Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do" (PDF.) The report summarizes more than 350 scientific papers published since 2000.
The study finds that texting likely increases crash risk more than cell phone use, and distractions are estimated to be associated with 15-25% of crashes. GHSA urges states to monitor the impact of existing bans and wait until more conclusive data are available before enacting new laws due to conflicting research on the effectiveness of handheld cell phone bans.
Currently, 9 states and DC have banned handheld cellphones for all drivers, and 34 states plus DC have made texting while driving illegal.
To us, it seems pretty simple: While you’re driving, keep both hands on the wheel and keep your phone or gadget put away. Common sense says it is absolutely safer to focus on the road rather than your Facebook feed. It’s a personal responsibility we should all carry, whether or not it’s the law.