Thirty-nine states have instituted a ban on texting while driving to cut down on deaths and injuries from distracted drivers. A graphic from the Institute of Highway Safety shows which states have implemented legislation on texting while driving and to what extent. Georgia bans all texting while driving (even while the vehicle is stopped) but states such as South Carolina and Florida do not have such a ban. Moreover, criminal sanctions and penalties are light for those who have killed others while texting and driving.
This video from MSNBC highlights some tragic stories and the understandable anger family members of loved ones feel when the drivers receive only 45 days in jail, 5 days in jail, no jailtime, etc. Unfortunately the grief, regret and anguish that you see from one of the convicted drivers comes far too late for the family who lost a loved one.
More severe criminal sentences and more aggressive ticketing by law enforcement may help curb the urge to text while driving. On the civil side, preventable distracted driving (texting, surfing, phone use) is a slam dunk neglience case opening up the driver and family of the driver to huge setttlements or verdicts against them. Money never brings back loved ones, and it certainly doesn't magically heal horrific injuries, but such lawsuits with punitive damages for aggravated liability (texting or DUI) serves to act as a deterrent to future negligent behavior by others.
The phone company has records. It can track when exactly a text was sent or received, or even viewed. You can bet that police will obtain those records if you hit someone and they think you were on your phone or reading a text or sending a text.
You can bet that trial attorneys like me will get those records in a civil suit - they are discoverable. Just knowing that should be deterrent to everyone.
Watch the video and next time you're in the car, put down the phone. If you're a passenger and see the driver texting, offer to type or read the text for him. Or remind him to send it or read it later. Just give it a rest; nothing is so important that it's worth a potentially life-destroying moment that you wish forever you could take back. That goes for me too.