• Congress considers ban on texting while driving

    Date: 08.05.09 | by Judge Tom.

    A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate in July, 2009 aims to make text messaging while driving [TWD] illegal.  Fourteen states, the District of Columbia and a number of cities already prohibit the practice with fines in the hundreds of dollars.

    The ALERT Drivers Act will force the remaining states to pass laws banning TWD, or face a 25% cut in their annual highway funding from the federal government.  ALERT stands for Avoiding Life Endangering and Reckless Texting.

    A study by Car and Driver magazine found that TWD is more dangerous that driving drunk.  The American Medical Association claims that TWD is a public health risk and increases the amount of time the driver’s eyes are off the road by 400%.

    If Congress passes the ALERT Drivers Act, states will have two years to pass their own laws banning TWD, or lose federal money. In some states, TWD is a secondary offense. That means you can’t be pulled over by the police just for TWD – the officer has to have another reason to stop you. This is similar to seat belt laws.

    What do you think about a law regulating texting? Is it necessary or is it a matter of common sense?  The state of Maryland passed an anti-texting bill by a vote of 43 to 4. On the other hand, Arizona’s attempt to do the same in 2009 failed by a vote of 16 to 15.  What do you think the objections are to prohibiting a practice that is obviously dangerous?

    For more about states with TWD laws, see:  http://askthejudge.info/no-mor-txting-while-drving/180/

    A police department in Wales teamed up with some high school students to create a graphic video showing the consequences of TWD. Take a look at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ttNgZDZruI

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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