Distracted Driving

Screen shot 2009-10-05 at 2.17.48 PMStatistics released last week at the “distracted driving summit” revealed that the use of cell phones while driving resulted in 5,800 deaths and 515,000 injuries in the US last year. States and the Fed are considering laws to address the growing problem of distracted driving.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws against texting while driving, some banning the use of cell phones while driving altogether. This week President Obama banned texting while driving for all federal employees including military personnel and postal workers.

One group lobbying to be exempted from distracted driving laws is American truckers. Truckers rely on computers in their cabs for mapping and GPS applications, scheduling and shipping information, and for communicating with dispatchers. Distractive driving laws would require truckers to pull over to the side of the road to carry out these activities, deeply cutting into tight shipping schedules, adding to fuel costs, and creating a different kind of risk on the highway. Other industries might also be considered for exemption such as taxi drivers and law enforcement. However, it’s difficult to justify exemptions for some drivers and not others, just as it is difficult to define which activities are distracting and which are not.

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