Should We Have “Designated Texters?”

Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist Mike Luckavich had the perfect cartoon about texting the other day. It is a group of friends at a bar and they decide to be responsible on the drive home, so one of them says “OK, so who is our designated texter?” Perfect! As you know from reading my blog, studies have absolutlely proven that a sober driver who is texting while driving is really more impaired than an intoxicated driver! Now that’s some sobering news.

I have been writing about this subject for awhile, hoping that come January 2010 the Georgia General Assembly will make it illegal in Georgia to text while driving. Interestingly, now Congress is thinking about making it a Federal offense! Wow! Talking about upping the ante! The Obama administration planned to offer recommendations this past Thursday to address the growing safety risk of distracted drivers, especially the use of mobile devices to send messages from behind the wheel. “We can really eliminate texting while driving. That should be our goal,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, declining to provide specifics of the recommendation.

Well, the statistics don’t lie: the Transportation Department reported that nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million were injured last year in vehicle crashes connected to driver distraction, often by mobile devices and cell phones. This is insane! How many Georgians have to be injured or killed by careless drivers who are texting behind the wheel before it is made illegal? Perhaps the Georgia Legislature could create a new offense, “DWT: Driving While Texting”?

In the meantime, I urge you: DO NOT test while you are driving. Put your Blackberry down. It can wait until you reach your destination. Or simply pull over to the side of the road if you MUST text.