Recently, the city of Columbus followed suit of many other city and state governments by passing a law that bans the use of a cell phone to send a text message, check e-mail, or access the I-nternet while operating an automobile.
This is a move that has frequently been the subject of debate among teens, parents and advocates of safer driving conditions.
According to a 2009 study by the University of Utah, the use of a cell phone to text while driving reduces one’s reaction time by as much as if the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. This in turn causes drivers who use cell phones to be four times more likely to get in an accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s obvious that legal measures need be taken to minimize the number of distracted drivers.
What doesn’t make sense is the details of the ban—the less publicized minutiae. The Columbus ban, as it was passed on April 5, set the act of texting while driving as a primary offense, meaning that it could be the cause of an officer pulling over a driver. The ban takes effect May 5.
This leaves a wide margin for human error. It’s easy enough to turn off your phone, delete the text message that was read or sent. It’s also easy enough to text in such a way that people outside your car cannot see. The ban seems difficult to enforce, at best.
In addition to a ban, there is other action that can be taken on a personal level to reduce the danger of phone use and driving. Turning off your phone, or putting it out of reach altogether, can reduce the temptation to engage is such a risky activity. And although it shouldn’t be done, if you must talk on the phone, get a hands-free headset.
The simple actions of many people can have a far greater effect than any ban.