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Driving While Texting Crackdown

Who among us hasn't hammered out a quick "stuck in traffic, be there asap" on the BlackBerry or cell phone while sitting behind the wheel? In Washington state, that's a $101 DWT - Driving While Texting - starting Jan. 1. The state's governor signed the ban into law on Friday, along with a ban on talking on a cell phone without a handsfree device, effective July 2008.

In both cases, citations for both bans can be issued if the driver is pulled over for another offense first, such as speeding.

Washington joins DC, California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut with hands-free talking laws. Washington is the first with a text messaging ban - but Oregon and Arizona are reportedly eyeing similar bans.

So what do you think? Are these types of laws unnecessary or overdue? Tell us why.

By Sam Diaz  |  May 14, 2007; 12:04 PM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Why bother? We don't enforce hands-free cell talking as it is!!

Posted by: gm123 | May 14, 2007 10:09 AM

Actually... I received one of those tickets shortly after I moved to the Washington area. Driving downtown, waiting for the light at Connecticut and L, my phone rang. I answered it and the traffic officer who happened to be standing nearby came over, tapped on my window and handed me the ticket. That's what I get for not riding Metro that day.

Posted by: Sam Diaz | May 14, 2007 10:50 AM

"Who among us hasn't hammered out a quick "stuck in traffic, be there asap" on the BlackBerry or cell phone while sitting behind the wheel?"

I know I haven't. I don't even have an SMS plan anymore, I just pay $0.10/msg., because I only use it to receive news, weather, and traffic alerts.

Even if I had an unlimited plan, I'd probably still prefer to use my Bluetooth with voice recognition to make a call. To me, that's no more distracting than talking to a passenger, and it requires less concentration than changing the radio station (although I will admit that the latter usually does not last as long as even leaving a voice message).

I wish MD would adopt a no texting law, and while we're at it, a hands-free law like least here, there's a chance it will be enforced!

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | May 14, 2007 11:55 AM

It's a HUGE problem that goes WAY beyond driving. The whole text message revolution is destroying kid's ability to write. We have 3 office interns who can barely write a succinct thought. Worse still, there grammar is horrific. Even they realize that they are losing the ability to write.

This is actually worse than talking on the phone while driving - the fine should be higher!

Posted by: TextingTooMuch | May 14, 2007 4:30 PM

"The whole text message revolution is destroying kid's ability to write."
"Worse still, there grammar is horrific."

Hmmm...some kids' bosses are quick to judge. I hope the older people in _their_ office will cut them some slack while they're there. As long as we're on the subject of English skills, perhaps you mean that they can't write a coherent thought. After all, text messaging is nothing if not succinct.

Posted by: irony lover | May 14, 2007 9:19 PM

"Worse still, there grammar is horrific." - Please tell me that your incorrect use of "there" instead of "their" in this sentence was to help prove your point?

Posted by: Dan | May 15, 2007 11:38 AM

Two points:
1. Text messaging is not necessarily bad for students. My Sprint phone has predictive texting where when I begin to type a word it fills in the rest of the word - spelled correctly and not in text abbreviations. Students should be learning the difference between writing forms - email vs. text vs. term paper vs. poem. It's all different.
2. Whether or not a law is enforced consistently, the fact that there is a law forces people to consider it. Whether I'm driving in Washington DC or somewhere that there isn't a law, I am aware that talking on the phone with out a hands free set is more dangerous - so much more dangerious that some places have created a law against it.

I think text messaging from the car is dangerous. If you are in that much traffic, you wouldn't lose much ground by pulling over to send your text message letting someone know you will be late.

Posted by: textthoughts | May 15, 2007 3:15 PM

While waiting at a red light at a pedestrian crossing on Wisconson Ave., a car drove passed me at 40+ and the driver was talking on her cell phone. Only the grace of God prevented her from killing a pedestrian. Neither hands free nor texting would have changed this. Distractions from your FULL attention to driving are DEADLY. Like drinking, talking on cells should be banned while driving.
I talked to the driver at the next red light and she didn't have a clue that she had run a red light!

Posted by: kevin | May 15, 2007 3:55 PM

I agree totally with banning texting completely. Our Gen "text" generation is illiterate. I am qualified to say this as a college professor at the University of Delaware. They may have earned a 2300 on the new SATs but ask them to spell anything with more than one syllable and they have to use a word processor and spellcheck it! We have started a file of emails that you can barely make out.

Posted by: Tom Johnston | May 16, 2007 6:17 PM

Wouldn't it be easier to simply ban everything that distracts drivers's attention? Will they pass a law for each single device or behaviour that might become a distraction? How about eating a piece of fruit? What happens if I am checking my destination address on my PDA instead of sending an SMS message?

Posted by: Manuel Delgado | May 23, 2007 2:11 PM

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