Our Opinion: New study, same result: Don’t text and drive

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You probably don’t need a study to tell you that texting and driving is unsafe, but that’s exactly what another one found recently, and it’s a good reminder that impaired driving can be deadly.

Whether the study — funded by The National Institutes of Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — is a waste of money is another issue. The point is texting, emailing, reading or other similar activities are not only dangerous to the person performing them, it’s also putting his or her passengers, and all others who pass that driver, at risk.

The study, published last week, confirms that dialing, texting or reaching for a cellphone while driving raises the risk of a crash or near-miss, especially for younger drivers. But the research also produced a surprise: Simply talking on the phone did not prove dangerous, as it has in other studies.

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Still, horror stories about texting drivers abound. Head down, focused on a tiny display, drivers have had an alarming tendency in recent years to drive their cars into other cars, pedestrians and bicyclists while texting. It is certainly a serious problem, one which has cost many lives and untold property damage, not to mention scaring many drivers with near-tragic close-calls.

The remedies are simple: Ignore texts while driving or, if they are truly urgent, pull over and tend to the matter away from traffic.

Texting while driving may not be as dangerous and stupid as driving drunk, but it ranks up there among foolish behaviors. We hope the study and the tragic or near-tragic stories successfully educate drivers about the need to leave their cell phones in their pockets while driving.