back to article Ban texting while driving, say Americans

Nine out of ten Americans think that texting while driving is dangerous and should be banned, but over half admitted to indulging in the act behind the wheel. A survey carried out by Harris Interactive found that while 91 per cent of people surveyed said it was as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after a couple of drinks, …


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  1. Matthew

    Separate legislation shouldn't be necessary

    These kinds of issues ought to be covered by existing 'driving carelessly' legislation in all countries.

    The newish UK law banning the use of hand-held phones is equally irrelevant as this suggestion and is widely disregarded even with the new stricter penalties.

    If you crash and are on the phone, it's dangerous driving: more points, bigger fine and maybe prison.

    The rule that politicians never seem to grasp: keep it simple!

  2. Matt

    Another law?

    Surly the US has something like a law about "driving without due care and attention"? In which case this is already illegal.

    I think it's ridiculous that governments introduce technology specific laws to try and be popular!

  3. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    El Reg is slipping

    I would have expected at least a byline in text speak..

  4. A. Lewis

    In other news...

    87% of Americans agree that grass is green.

    Blimey. I suddenly never want to drive in the US...

  5. Edwin

    Separate legislation clearly needed, because people obviously don't grasp the connection with 'careless' driving, or (like everyone else on the planet) believe they are an above-average driver and *can* safely text while driving.

    If you want people to get this particular message, you need to tell them explicitly:

    Oi! You! Driver! Noooooooooooo!

  6. Ed

    Well, its a failure of democracy...

    The issue with democracy is that you've got a bunch of people who are employed full time to make new laws.... We just get more and more laws and more and more restrictions on our personal liberties as a result.

  7. Cameron Colley

    Hypocrisy and idiocy...

    ...both in the same story.

    Hypocrisy of the American public (though, I suspect, a survey on the UK public would yield similar results).

    Idiocy of the American government, for doing exactly as the UK has done, and introduce new legislation rather than applying existing laws.

    You've got to laugh at the general stupidity of the human species sometimes.

  8. Stuart Barnett


    Txt'ing whilst driving is a constitutional right and talk of it being revoked is un-American!

    There I've said it.

  9. Will Leamon


    How do they enforce these new laws? I can't tell what anyone is doing in their car most of the time. Do the cops drive around trying to peer into the passenger compartment to see what you're up to?

    That sounds even more dangerous than texting while driving. I understand that blighty has cameras all over the place so I can see how ya'll do it. But here in the States is a different story. This just sounds like yet another unenforceable law passed to placate members on the nanny state.

    You know like the war on drugs and it's hideous sequel the war on terror.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Existing legislation

    Whatever exists is not sufficient. By definition, the wording is never precise enough to cover the current issues.

    On the other hand, in an ideal world it wouldn't be "the people" who would need to grasp the difference, it would be enough that the police and judges be able to give proper arrests and decisions.

    It should not be necessary to have a law against texting so that a cop can arrest someone who is not paying attention to the road. But such is the madness of our times that no one can accept "driving dangerously" as a valid charge. No, it has to be "driving without his having hands on the wheel due to smoking a cig, texting on his Blackberry and shaving in the mirror".

    And anyway, if we took a good look at our existing laws, we could most probably find a valid interpretation of it to sanction any socially deviant attitude, but that would mean that our elected Parliament officials would officially not have anything to do - which would in turn mean that nobody would have any use lobbying them, and THAT would mean the end of a nice big flow of moolah.

    Can't have that, now can we ?

  11. GettinSadda

    How about a revisable single law?

    Modify the "careless driving" or "driving without due care and attention" law/s to include a non-exhaustive list of acts that are expected to be regarded as an offense of this type. Every few years the government can revise it by adding a few new ideas to the list if they want: Speaking on the phone, added in 2007; texting, added in 2008; playing PSP2, added in 2010, etc.

  12. Mike

    Of course we need a new law

    Law should be about about prevention not punishment, by making it illegal to use a phone when driving, it prevents accidents, without the law someone could (legally) argue that they were paying special attention to the road while texting, looking further ahead, only briefly glancing at the phone etc.

    If this law did not exist you could only punish people after an accident, you couldn't say using a phone while driving is dangerous, otherwise changing the radio, lighting a cigarette, having a tic tac, opening a window would all be have to be illegal too as you're not 100% concentrating on the road.

    It would be nice to think that we wouldn't need another law, but as Edwin indicates, we are dealing with people, and people need control as they are unaware of their limitations, this law will save lives.

  13. Steve Evans

    The problem is

    At least in the UK, most laws like this are ignored... Why? Because the yellow metal box policemen (Gatso cameras) don't do anything except snap you if you speed.

    If they would invent one that snaps people for not indicating at junctions and/or roundabouts, I'd be right behind them... BTW, that idea is (c) me, as of now, okay!

    The trouble is, in the UK at least, the number of traffic police has reduced as the Gatso cash machines have increased. Meaning that as long as you drive below the speed limit, you're unlikely to get caught for anything... Unless you take your number plates off, then you can do whatever you like.

    Only last Christmas I was nominated driver, and did a 20 miles round trip dropping various people off home after a night out at between midnight and 1am on the 26th December. Drunk people walking, dancing, falling over all over the roads etc... Didn't see a single cop.

  14. Frantisek Janak

    Bad approach

    As Maddox wrote once, it doesn't matter, whenever you hold a phone or a hamburger, you are still partially or fully un-focused. I think they should make a list of things that are ALLOWED while driving, that would be much shorter list.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll pass in NY

    They recently had a tragedy in NY where five young ladies, all a week out of high school, were killed because their SUV swerved in front of a semi and burst into flames after impact.

    Phone records indicate text messages both incoming and outgoing to the phone of the driver right up until the crash time. Was it her actually operating the phone? Who knows?

    So the emotion of the event will carry the law in NY, I'd imagine. Things like that happen here a lot (see ACT, PATRIOT).

  16. Paul

    Existing laws

    The existing laws should indeed cover the act of not paying full attention to the road, but then again this is a country where it's not uncommon for people to be driving while attempting to talk on the phone, do their hair, eat a fast food breakfast and chug their coffee, all at the same time. Frankly it's a miracle that the roads aren't littered with wrecked vehicles and mangled human remains.

    It only helps if the law is properly enforced anyway, and I have my doubts about that. Cops around here would rather lurk behind bridge supports waiting for someone to pass going 10 over the limit than go looking for those who are driving distractedly and posing a much greater threat to everyone else.

  17. james

    oh teh noes

    I think texting while driving definitely funds terrorism

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1.I live in a jurisdiction where it is illegal to use a telephone without headset while driving, and I can seldom walk a block downtown without seeing a couple of drivers with phone to ear. But I do not see persons texting as they drive.

    2. What percentage of drivers in the US routinely carry a cell that allows the sending & receipt of text messages? Not that large, I bet, 70% at the high end. Do 70% of them text while driving? I doubt it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Walk on by

    Ban texting while driving! Ban texting while walking. Idiots stumbling around all over the pavement, head bowed, thumb in frantic motion and no idea of where they are. Ban people from walking while using a phone, changing the volume on the iThing, in fact, doing anything other than looking where they are going. Idiots!

    Guess who I bumped into at lunchtime?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy to see

    Commuting into London on a motorcycle, it's easy to see that about a third of drivers are using mobile phones, often with so-called hands-free kits that allow them to key in the number with the phone on their lap. I have seen people texting before now, and it's usually easy to see who they are just from their inattentive driving. So: more police on motorbikes would do a lot of good.

    Also a guy using a blackberry on his lap ran over my foot while I was stationary in heavy traffic. BMW drivers! Pah!

  21. A. Merkin

    New Laws Needed for Old Offenders

    Of course we need new focused laws like this. That way we can grandfather existing offenders.

    Embezzled before Sarbanes Oxley was put in place? That's OK, 'cause "unethical business practices" only became illegal in 2001!

    With this new law in place, the parents of the NY "SUVicide Drivers" (TM) can safely sue the *ss off everyone else, from the truck driver to the Mobile Mfg, to the dividing line paint manufacturer... 'cause texting while (not) driving wasn't illegal until 2008.

    We're Merkins... It's never our fault!

    (PS, if you are from Betelgeus, this is an example of sarcasm).

  22. Dillon Pyron

    O gr8 whts nxt

    Yet another law gone unenforced. It's illegal to run a red light. I regularly see three cars go through one light I have to drive through on the way to work.

    If you're not paying attention to your driving, you'll be weaving, tailgating, speeding (or driving way too slow) and probably a host of other violations.

    I think in the case of the NY accident, all 5 girls' phones had sent text messages (erh, txt msgs) within the approximately 2 minute time frame prior to the accident. IIRC, all five (under 21) were also over .08. Five drunk teen girls in a car texting away. As the song goes (Brits, look up "Take Me Out to the Ball Game") "and it's one, two, three strikes, you're out".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    self driving car...

    self driving car... self driving car... SELF DRIVING CAR...


  24. Michael

    @ Frantisek Janak

    I agree, they should publish a list of allowed activities while driving. And in all reality, it should be really short:

    1) Drive.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Short list.

    I think Drive & breathe. The only things you actually need to do. :)

    Personally I think we should all take our driving tests (or slimmed down version) at least every few years, thin the ranks of those that try and get away with forgetting basics. Common sense tests as texting or talking fall under "Obvious things that you should NOT do while driving" DUH!!!

    I am sick of elderly drivers who shouldn't be allowed on the roads, powerful cars with no reactions and little eyesight. Teenagers that definintely shouldn't be allowed into adult hood never mind driving souped up Ford Ka's. And although I am not racist there are a lot of ladies from the ethnic minorities that have never passed a test, can't read english and are loose on the roads where I live. It's not PC to arrest them however.

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