Federal officials at the Distracted Driving Summit are urging more states to outlaw driving while texting and some senators have introduced a bill.
It's seems like a no-brainer: texting while driving can be deadly. So why haven't more states banned the practice?
Some in Congress and US transportation officials are wondering the same thing. In the two-day Distracting Driving Summit, which began Wednesday, officials are nudging lawmakers nationwide to take action.
"To put it plainly, distracted driving is a menace to society," US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at the opening of the summit in Washington.
Last year, 5,870 people died in vehicle crashes caused by some kind of distraction, according to a report issued in September by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the use of a mobile phone – for talking or texting – can't be blamed for all these vehicle deaths, transportation officials have concluded it's one of the leading causes of distractions.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia either have a ban on texting while driving or one coming in the near future, according to the National Conference on State Legislature. Some more states have partial bans on underage or school drivers using the cellphone while driving. The National Conference said Monday that 33 states debated 113 bills to curb driver distraction last year, and that cellphone use, including text messaging, by new drivers was one of the most popular issues debated in state legislatures.