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Randy Appleton
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Feds Get Serious About Cutting Texting While Driving

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I’m not used to hearing a federal official describe much of anything as a “menace” these days. But that is exactly the word U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood choose to describe texting while driving. LaHood also called distracted driving in general an epidemic in the days leading up to, and throughout, a two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., this week.

The candor was refreshing regarding a problem that led to a significant proportion of the 515,000 car cashes in which people got injured during 2008. Nearly 6,000 of those accidents involved at least one distracted driver and one fatality.

Just in case there is any doubt that texting while driving constitutes a—to agree with Secretary LaHood—menace, I’ll point to a recently published study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The researchers found that texting commercial truck drivers were 23.2 times more likely to have an accident than nontexting truck drivers. People driving cars were 2.8 times more likely to crash while dialing their cell phones.

LaHood, backed by President Barack Obama, has decided to act on his understanding of the seriousness of the texting and driving problem. By Executive Order, no military personnel or federal employees can text while driving a government vehicle or conducting official business. Federal laws prohibiting bus, tractor trailer and train operators from texting while driving are promised.

Virginia was somewhat out in front on curbing texting while driving. I would like to see federal laws banning the practice move quickly to bolster and extend the protections the Virginia law gives drivers.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the Northeast North Carolina (NC) border. Lawyers with the firm practice primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handle injury law cases, including car, truck and railroad accidents, medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is hsinjurylaw.com. Lawyers with Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton also edit the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and host a YouTube injury law video library with more than 50 videos covering many FAQs on personal injury subjects. The firm’s lawyers are licensed in VA, NC, SC, WV, DC and KY.

EJL