Wisconsin State senators are set to begin debate Tuesday whether to ban texting while driving for people under age 18 because of the higher rate of automobile accidents in that group. Wisconsin would become the tenth state with such a law if it passes. The states which currently ban texting while driving are Arizona, California, Colorado (eff. 12/09), Connecticut, District of Colombia, Illinois (eff. 1/10), Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire (eff. 1/10), New Jersey, New York (eff. 11/09), Oregon (eff. 1/10), Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington
Why is texting while driving so dangerous? While every phone is different and every person is different, driving schools and law enforcers agree that an average text with a simple message takes about ten seconds. During those ten seconds, you could cover a quarter of a mile on the highway.
More easily understood, after about five seconds of texting you travel about the length of a football field. During an average text, that’s about two football fields, which is a significant distance. That distance is especially significant for inexperienced drivers such as teens, who, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, may send close to 80 messages per day.
No one knows exactly how many accidents have been caused by “texting while driving” but in one tragic incident five young women died in a collision with a tractor trailer in Rochester, New York a week after graduating high school. Police discovered the teenage driver had been texting moments before the crash.
What do we take away from this? While it is a step in the right direction to ban texting while driving, it is important for each of us to be aware of the distracting things we do while driving. So many of us treat our cars as rolling living rooms—phone calls, music, food, texts, even DVDs—that we forget the inherent danger.
If you are in an accident where cell phone or text usage was a factor, please see a personal injury attorney for advice on whether there is a responsible party who can compensate you for lost wages, pain and suffering, or medical expenses.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.