Texting behind the wheel

The splash made by a Virginia Tech study of texting while driving wasn’t so much about whether texting is a bad idea, but about just how bad it is. Truckers behind the wheel were [**23 times** more likely to be involved in a collision](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/28/technology/28texting.html) while they were texting.

The New York Times put together a [texting and driving game](http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/19/technology/20090719-driving-game.html) that lets you test your texting meddle, without actually getting behind the wheel and becoming a public safety hazard.

Minnesota’s [texting while driving](https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=169.475) went into effect [last August](http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/05/23/texting/), and a few incidences have been publicized, though typically in connection with another offense. Embattled auto mogul Denny Hecker plead guilty last week to careless driving; his attorney said he [had been texting while driving](http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/07/24/hecker-texting-while-driving/) when an accident sent him to the hospital last December.

A Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesman told me state troopers are writing tickets regularly, though, compared to infractions like speeding, its more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Somewhere, studies are probably underway to determine how other startling activities people take up behind the wheel — reading, eating, or putting on makeup — affect one’s driving abilities. For example, my fiance called me the other day to say she’d seen someone behind the wheel *playing a guitar*.

Do you text behind the wheel?(survey software)

  • Elizabeth T

    have I been texting behind the wheel? Are you nuts?

    it’s bad enough when folks talk & drive. But, I would consider answering (read: have answered) the cell phone in the car. After checking to see if it’s the person watching my children (and no one else).

    I called the Midmorning show once from the car .. after I pulled off the road to talk.

    Unless you’re on that stretch of I-80 around Chicago where there’s no shoulder, I can’t imagine a driver not being able to pull off the road if they need to answer the phone. Of course, then we’ll have the shoulders of the state’s highways clogged with cars in Neutral sucking fuel and spewing carbon dioxide … but at least they’re not texting.

  • MR

    I will occasionally punch out a quick text message when I am stopped at a light. If I have to start moving again, the phone goes down and waits until the next stoplight. Texting while moving though? Heck no.

  • JSmith

    The occasional time I’ve sent texts while driving were a completely different experience than the NYT game. I slow down, hold the phone so I can still see the road, and use tactile memory to press the keys without having to look at them. If anything happens on the road I’m not sure about I put the phone down. Also, I don’t usually have to fumble with the steering wheel and turn signals.

    In fact, my score said I was point .01 seconds slower while NOT texting, which should show how poorly set up it is.

  • Jim!!!

    I plead guilty, and I agree it’s a hazard. I’m trying to quit.

  • Steve Bracht

    Texting while driving should be treated along the same lines as a DWI ,, People cant even hardly answer a question while texting . I would easily trust a social drinker driving much more then anyone trying to drive while texting .

  • Janis

    I watched the video, and although I only send canned sms’s while the car is stopped (at a stoplight, ususally), I have since decided to reduce, if not eliminate that. My daughter watches me drive. Kids don’t often understand gray area, and even if they do, they end up with thier own definitions of it. I”ve made it to an age that I think I can manage my attention fairly safely, but kids emulate in their own way. I hope others think about how our current practices affect the safety of the roads in, say, 2018. My kid is watching you, too.