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Text messaging while driving and the accident risk – September 26, 2009

One week before The U.S Transportation Department is expected to hold a distracted driving conference in Washington, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Trade Group backed calls to ban car and truck drivers from text messaging while driving. The conference will involve safety, technology and other experts and, explore legislative and regulatory approaches to reduce the risk of accidents and serious injuries resulting from automobile accidents due to the increase of text messaging.

While evidence linking car and truck accidents to text messaging is largely anecdotal, a study released in July from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute suggests that text messaging is significantly more distracting and dangerous when driving, than talking or listening on cell phones or reaching for an object. The researchers concluded that texting has the potential to create a true crash epidemic if it continues to grow in popularity, particularly among teenagers as they reach driving age in larger numbers. The research was gathered over 18 months from real world driving data from truck drivers.

The wireless industry, including manufacturers and carriers also believes that texting is incompatible with safe driving and increases the risk of harm or injury while operating a vehicle. Use of text messaging has grown explosively in recent years, with more than 1 trillion text messages sent and received on cell phones and other wireless devices.

“Clearly, using a hand-held device to text or call while driving is a safety risk,” said Dave McCurdy, the Alliance’s President and CEO . “Alliance member companies have long recognized the risks of distracted driving. That’s why automakers voluntarily developed and implemented guidelines for integrated advanced information and communications systems,” added McCurdy.

A text-while-driving ban has been proposed in the House of Representatives and Senator Charles Schumer of New York has proposed that 25% of federal highway funds be withheld from states that do not have laws banning texting while driving.

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