According to a report released on Tuesday, text messaging while driving increases the risk of an auto accident even more than talking on a cell phone while driving.
The study, which was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), found that texting while driving increased the risk of an accident by more than 23 times.
"Text messaging on a cell phone was associated with the highest risk of all cell phone related tasks," says the VTTI. "The tasks that draw the driver's eyes away from the forward roadway were those with the highest risk."
The VTTI also found that text messaging leads drivers eyes to be off the road an average of 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval, RedOrbit reports.
Therefore States would be required to ban driving while texting or face the loss of highway funds under legislation being pushed by a group of Democratic senators.
"The federal government ought to pass a law banning this dangerous and growing practice to protect the millions of Americans on our nation's roads. It is a matter of public safety," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who was to unveil the legislation Wednesday along with Democrats Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, The Associated Press reports.
The texting prohibition would affect drivers of all ages. But the bill permits only “secondary enforcement” by police, meaning texting while driving would not be enough on its own to qualify as an offense.
Instead, police would have to first ticket for another infraction, such as speeding, before ticketing for texting.
As a result, safety groups say the law has been weakened to the point that many drivers — and police — will simply ignore the ban, Buffalo News reports.