Driving safely requires concentration, but today, there are many distractions that take a driver's attention away from the road. Dialing a cell phone while driving, for example, makes you almost three times more likely to have an accident. Talking on the phone is only a little less dangerous. But a new study found that the collision risk increases by more than 23 times when a driver picks up a cell phone to send a text message. Such studies support efforts to ban texting and regulate other distracting behaviors while driving.
One of those advocating for such loss is Weida Stoecker. She vividly remembers the day her husband was killed in a car crash in 2007. "I was five minutes behind him," she says. "I was coming home from work. I had called him on the phone when I left school and said 'I'm on my way home.' He didn't respond, but I didn't think anything about it. When I got off the Interstate 83, and there was a lot of traffic at the time."
She told NBC News she was shocked to discover that her husband was the victim of the accident that had caused all that traffic. Later, she says, she learned that the driver who hit her husband's car was a 17-year-old, who was sending a text message at the time.
More states passing laws to ban texting while driving
To honor the memory of her husband and others who have been in such terrible situations, Stoecker began advocating for laws against texting while driving. Finally, she says, her efforts paid off in her home state of North Carolina.
"The legislature passed a bill on texting this past legislative session, it was signed into law by the governor--a $100 fine if a police officer observes you texting while driving," she says.
North Carolina is one of 17 states that have now banned texting while driving, according to Anne Teigen, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Washingon State was the first state to ban texting in 2007. And Illinois just passed and their governor just signed a bill. So we can say there is a little bit of momentum this year when it comes to state legislatures looking at the issue," Teigen says.
David Strayer is delighted to see more states banning texting while driving. "I think that's the right answer for the text messaging for sure," he says. "That's just two activities, driving and text messaging just simply don't mix. And different states have different laws, I can't tell you the law, but put in the place in Utah, the state I was, if you are involved in an accident, and you were text messaging, you would be prosecuted as if you were doing great wrong."
Other distractions also cause accidents
The psychology professor at the University of Utah has spent a decade studying driver distraction.
"Right now in United States one out of three accidents is caused by driving distractions. Our vehicle has become a source of all kinds of distractions; radios, eating, applying makeup, and then interacting with a lot of new technology that has taken place over the last 10 to 15 years, like talking on the cell phones, hand free cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, surfing the internet, interacting with the GPS system (global positioning system), virtual gaming, watching television, shuffling through your Ipod to find the next song."
Although there have always been distractions that take a driver's eyes off the road, Strayer says today's distractions are more numerous and more dangerous than ever. "Because a lot of these new things that are based on delivery of information over wireless networks like cell phones and text messaging and so forth, tend to occupy the mind in a different way than eating a sandwich would. An engagement like text messaging takes a driver's eyes off the road for longer period of time, and talking on the cellphone, you might get into a conversation that talks for the next, you know, 20 or 30 minutes about something, and completely kind of lose track of where you are. That kind of distraction is very dangerous," Strayer says.
The findings of the recent studies, he says, should convince drivers to voluntarily turn off their cellphone and just focus on the road.
"In a study that we have done with commercial truckers, they found that there is a 23 fold increase in near accidents with truckers who were driving while text messaging. If you had a bunch of people driving in the highway with a high alcoholic level, or if you had the same number of people driving in the highway text messaging, you would find more crashes and more fatalities at people texting. So talking on cellphone, text messaging and so forth, these activities are at least as bad and at least as dangerous as being intoxicated when driving."
David Strayer says it is not going to stop there with new types of distractions making their ways to our vehicles everyday. He anticipates driving will become a riskier task in the future. Passing new laws to ban such distractions, he says, is crucial. So is raising drivers' awareness of the danger and encouraging them to take responsibility and choose not to multitask while driving.
shuffle: to move (something) from one place to another 把……移来移去（shuffle sb. to and fro 把某人调来调去）
multitask: doing several things at the same time 同时做多件事情（Just because you work at home doesn't mean you have to multitask more than anyone else would during a typical workday.在家工作并不意味着你同时干多种活，一个工作日干的事要比别人还多。）
Getting clunkers and distracted drivers off the road
Sunday driver 开慢车
(Source: VOA 英语点津编辑）