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Should texting and driving be against the law?

A recent study showed that driving and texting is 23 times more dangerous than paying full attention. Some in Congress want to take action.

Is it time for national legislation? Would it even work?

Let us know what you think!

Tom and Ray Magliozzi
Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

Yup, it should be illegal. However road rules are the pervue of the states, not the feds.

While it would be difficult to enforce, it would at least place liability clearly one the shoulders of the texter in the event of an accident.

On the other hand, the accident may not have been the texter’s fault, so should we pass a law that automatically assumes liability?

I changed my mind. I don’t know.

Yes, it absolutely should be against the law. However, unless this statute was actually enforced, it would be essentially useless.

Several years ago, my state (NJ) made it a secondary MV offense to talk on a cell phone while driving, unless one uses a hands-free device. As a secondary offense, a driver could only be ticketed for this violation if the car was stopped for another reason (burned out lights, illegal turn, etc.)

A little over a year ago, talking on a cell phone while driving (without a hands-free device) became a primary offense. There was a fair amount of publicity that this would be strictly enforced, and a few local PDs actually did engage in a ticketing blitz for a few weeks.

However, at this point, this statute is largely ignored by drivers, with the effect that virtually every woman piloting a 3-ton SUV to the corner store is holding a cell phone and yakking while driving. And, this widespead violation of the statute is the result of essentially NO enforcement.

Banning texting while driving is an excellent idea. But, unless there is an actual effort to enforce it, I believe that the legislation would merely be a feel-good exercise in futility.


  • ‘Careless driving’ - is the citation they can write,-- right now --, today.

Enforcing that, ie; utilizing the existing laws as effective tools, seems to be the issue.

Getting people to realize that this ( texting ) is that ( careless driving ) is the overall biggest issue.

Heck, I would say the use of a cell phone while driving should be illegal, let along texting.

As stated by at least one other, it IS against the law to drive carelessly or to fail to devote one’s full attention to driving (which is usually used AFTER one has had the accident). I don’t think the Feds need to get involved, they have enough on their plate to screw up. If the states would make TALKING and TEXTING on a cell phone the subject of obnoxiously high fines (hands free exempted), and then enforce them with high profile publicity, it would probably work.

It should be illegal. There shouldn’t have to be a law but many people are not smart enough to just drive. In addition, our culture seems to require a lot of hand-holding. It used to be lonely at the top, but now it seems to be top to bottom. Some people won’t own motorcycles because the texting is so difficult.

There are sillier things happening. In Maine, we still want to have a laptop computer for every high school student to use. We must be teaching them skills for when they move to Massachusetts. They have to move there if they want a different area code.

“However road rules are the pervue of the states, not the feds.”

Unfortunately they aren’t always up to the states.

Remember the 55 MPH FEDERAL speed limit? If states didn’t enforce it, they lost some, if not all,of their federal highway funding. THAT law was largely ignored, especially west of the Hudson River.

I don’t text while driving, but I will talk on my phone if the traffic is not a big factor. There have been times when I have pulled far off of the road, like down an off ramp and around the block, to call someone back.

Perhaps driver non-emergency texting from a moving vehicle should be illegal. I can’t see all that much trouble with drivers stuck in immobile construction traffic, waiting for trains at grade crossings or at an eternal stoplight sending or receiving text messages. My real concern would be that we don’t know what digital communications will look like two or three decades from now. Passing what turn out to be OK laws now, but dumb laws later is a lot easier than unpassing them.

Absolutely Not - I don’t remember having to demonstarte my ability to use a cell phone or text while taking my driving test!

That sounds more like a reason for texting to be illegal. Why would you have to demonstrate that you can indulge in illegal activities while you drive?

Neither did you have to display your ability to down that whopper and fries at 70mph in four lanes of traffic.

What you have to demonstrate is the mental capacity to know when
to do these activities.

I’ll repeat myself for those of you who haven’t read the above posts…
It ALREADY IS illegal.


I have seen the result…devastating

That wasn’t a federal law. What the feds said was that any state that did not change their speed limit to 55 mph (and allow right turns on red lights) would lose their federal highway funding. A few states resisted initially, but they eventially came around. Millions in highway funds will have quite an influence. Some changed their laws but refused to enforce it. Some changed their laws and used it as a revenue generator.

There are no federal speed limit laws.

In NH it’s called “driving to endanger”.

I agree, there are already laws on the books to cover it.

I’ve witnessed devastating events due in large part to texting while driving. I suggest that instead of making it illegal, anyone in an accident that is found to have been talking on the phone, or texting, should forfeit their right to insurance money in addition to any penalties for existing “dangerous driving” laws in effect.

The devil is in the details. If laws were written to ban texting while driving, cell phones while driving, and smoking while driving, then there’s still be those people eating while driving, reading the paper while driving, and writing that company contract whole driving. And would you then need a law to ban sex while driving…(ah, the sweet memories of youth)?

I submit that the “driving to endanger” and similar laws already on the books are the best approach.

and harsh punishments for those that are caught. Didn’t a woman in California get 6 years in prison for manslaughter because she was texting while speeding and hit a car so bad it bust into flames(and it was NOT a Pinto :stuck_out_tongue: ) and killed the driver

Good responses. Years ago I used to think, "one side gets a law passed, the other side works to get another law passed to defend themselves.

I’ve lived in Indiana for the past 29 years. Never heard of the law “driving to endanger.” Great concept though. I don’t doubt it’s existence, I’ve just never heard any reference to it. Although I just read in the local newspaper that seat belts are required to be worn by back seat passengers as well. Which I didn’t know.

If no “driving to endanger” law. Would want something to eliminate driver texting (also operating or manipulating a cellphone) while driving.

Have a Great Day,

I didn’t hear about that. But here on the east coast we have recently had two subway car (tramway car, whatever they call them) crashes because the operators were texting.