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Texting While Driving – A Case of Drivers Not Thinking Straight

By • Sep 26th, 2009 • Category: Clean Car Talk Posts

Updated 11-17-09. Let’s forget clean driving and the environment for a moment. There’s a more pressing issue.

The Ford Motor Company recently commissioned an online survey on texting while driving, according to an article on Ford’s media website. The online survey was conducted September 18-21 by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates on behalf of Ford, and its goal was to understand driver perceptions related to distracted driving. Ford endorses a proposed nationwide ban on handheld texting introduced by Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). Here are some key findings.

  • The survey showed 86 percent of licensed U.S. drivers described handheld texting while driving as “very dangerous,” with 93 percent supporting a nationwide ban on texting.
  • Despite strong support for a nationwide handheld texting ban, only 42 percent of respondents believe drivers would stop texting if banned. More than 75 percent believe there would be more compliance if hands-free or voice-activated technologies were widely available.
  • Sixty-seven percent of drivers said they believed voice-activated technology is a safe alternative to handheld texting.
  • The most recent and most complete research shows that distractions that take drivers’ eyes away from the road for an extended period of time are a factor in nearly 80 percent of accidents.

Texting while drivingThere are plenty of tests and studies that illustrate this serious problem, including a certain well known gory commercial. While the survey merely puts some numbers to already known problems and trends, the real issues are really twofold:

  1. It’s no doubt that the majority of us agree that texting while driving is a major distraction and can lead to serious accidents, and
  2. We can’t agree on how to solve the problem, regardless of what statistics and even common sense indicate.

Existing Cell Phone Driving Laws

In case many people don’t realize, this case is no different from talking on mobile phones while driving. The so-called hands-free driving laws or cell phone driving laws are already in effect in many states. As of September 2009,

  • Six states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington), the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from talking on handheld cell phones while driving. With the exception of Washington State, these laws are all primary enforcement—an officer may ticket a driver for using a handheld cell phone while driving without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • No state completely bans all types of cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers, but many prohibit cell phone use by certain segments of the population.
    • Novice Drivers: 21 states and the District of Columbia ban all cell use by novice drivers.
    • School Bus Drivers: In 17 states and the District of Columbia, school bus drivers are prohibited from all cell phone use when passengers are present.
  • Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now ban text messaging for all drivers.
    • Novice Drivers: 9 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
    • School Bus Drivers: 1 state restricts school bus drivers from texting while driving.
  • Some states, such as Maine, New Hampshire and Utah treat cell phone use as a larger distracted driving issue. Utah considers speaking on a cellphone to be an offense only if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (other than speeding).

The fact is, these on-the-book laws do get some people off of talking on the phones while driving, but many people are still doing it, and the whole thing has been really a huge opportunity for companies to sell gazillions of Bluetooth headsets. I see people still driving with their cellphones to their ears all the time. So for those taking part in this debate about texting laws, that’s what you have to look forward to.

I’m all for banning texting while driving. Some laws, including those that ban texting while driving, are good and necessary. But maybe the problem needs to be solved in a different way.

The Solution: Education, Awareness and Care

It seems the urge to stay connected is so strong that we’re willing to sacrifice our own safety and the safety of those around us. There is no specific law that I know of that forbids viewing video while driving, yet people know better to not do it. This is because they can clearly associate ‘looking at the video screen’ being ‘not looking at the road.’ The goal then is to help drivers associate ‘texting while driving’ with ‘texting means not looking at the road.’ If one really thinks about it, it’s all about

  • Knowing: being educated about possible consequences. Most people already know that lives are at stakes.
  • Understanding: being aware and conscious of the possible consequences. Many people understand that their actions may hurt themselves and others.
  • Caring: accepting that the possible consequences are real. Only few people are aware to care about not hurting themselves and other people until it happens. In fact they should care before it happens.

The bottom Line

When people can associate their actions to possible consequences of serious injuries and/or death to themselves and others, then they will see that texting while driving will not seem too important in the grand scheme of things, regardless of how urgent the subject matter of the texting may have been. What’s the bottom line? It is this: You can kill someone as you text while driving. Simple.

View the complete Ford article.

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is a marketing communications consultant working in the San Diego area. Cuong is dedicated to helping individuals and companies maximize their presence on the Internet and efficiently take products and services to market through SEO and network marketing. Cuong also maintains a blog on Marketing at You can also find Cuong Huynh's profile on LinkedIn. For fun he maintains a blog on Vietnamese pho, soccer and do storyboards for movie and film projects. Follow Cuong on Twitter @CuongHuynh, @LovingPho, @CleanCarTalk, @BlockbusterFilm, @SoccerUSA.
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3 Responses »

  1. Texting while driving is dangerous, and people don’t seem to get it. It is impossible to focus properly on the road AND on a cell phone at the same time. Any responsible driver should shut down its phone, pull over, or at least consider a hands-free texting alternative like TextnDrive ( It doesn’t eliminate the problem, but at least those applications are doing something to reduce the distraction.

  2. Years ago, we all survived without texting and driving. We didn’t carry phones with us at all. Now people think they have to respond to a text or call immediately, this is crazy. It can wait for a few minutes until you can safely pull to the side of the road or into a parking lot. It is just to dangerous, and not worth the risks.

  3. Good article. And its not just texting that can cause distracted driving. I recently posted this article on the topic: Michael Jones.