Contrast and Compare
two newspaper stories published less than a year apart by the same newspaper because they happened in the same area.
And in other news:
I am certain that everyone will be startled to hear that Text Messaging And Driving Are Hazardous To Your Health: Study
Less surprising is that Congress is for sale and the NHTSA knows it:
and that industry is pushing back in the Pennsylvania legislature against a city ordinance.
By Bill Green
As with cigarettes and cancer, we can no longer deny the link between traffic accidents and cell-phone use while driving. Although study after study has shown a distracted driver is a dangerous driver, most state governments – including Pennsylvania’s – have failed to regulate this practice.
Recognizing the risk, Philadelphia’s government took action. Last spring, City Council unanimously passed a ban on the use of handheld devices while driving or bicycling.
A recent New York Times series cited the very studies City Council considered. One study demonstrated that a driver using a mobile phone was as distracted as a drunk driver. Another determined that drivers dialing phones are four times more likely to cause a crash. Yet another found that drivers sending text messages are 23 times more likely to cause an accident. The upshot is clear: Drivers using handheld devices pose a danger to other drivers, pedestrians, and themselves.
In Philadelphia, we made dialing, talking, texting, and even just holding a mobile device while driving a primary offense, meaning police can stop and cite drivers for these violations alone. However, as you read this, lobbyists for the cell-phone industry are pushing Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to undo these protections.
The legislature is considering a ban on texting while driving that, although it’s a step in the right direction, does not go far enough. It would let drivers dial numbers, the most distracting part of making a call. It would make texting while driving only a secondary offense, meaning a driver could be pulled over for it only if violating another law. And it would preempt Philadelphia’s more comprehensive law.
As the tobacco industry did, the cell-phone industry is making decisions based on its bottom line – decisions that have and will cost lives. Its lobbying has been extraordinarily successful: As the Times reported, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withheld data demonstrating the dangers of cell-phone use while driving.
We are paying a deadly price – at least 300,000 accidents and 26,000 fatalities to date – for the failure to end this practice. Citizens – the people endangered by the lack of political courage on this issue at the state and federal levels – should urge their legislators to preserve Philadelphia’s law and pass an aggressive statewide measure before more people are injured or killed.