What is needed is pass interference

Blocking texts while driving only way to enforce ban

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Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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I cannot drive on Sundays--at least during the NFL season. That is because I am a fantasy football nut, and my wife knows better than to allow me to take the wheel while I have one eye on my smart phone to see if one of my running backs can punch it in from a yard out.

 

I have noticed an uptick in the call to reduce the amount of distracted driving out on the road. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made it his mission to curb this potentially deadly habit. Although the outreach has been admirable (several states have installed texting-while-driving bans), none of it is really going to make a difference. That's because texting is like a drug to some people. No matter how hard they try to resist, they just have to tell Jackie about the cutest boy that was just located on a street corner, or they need to finalize plans with Derek for the night. I can't tell you how many times I have been involuntarily pulled into these conversations, because the car in front of me is traveling about 20 mph below the posted speed limit and swaying ever so slightly to the left or right. I'd like to call it texting intoxication.

 

I have often wondered how states are really enforcing this texting ban. It's not like they can force a line of cars to pull over, like they do to help battle drunken driving. It takes a bit of luck. A police officer has to pick up on the erratic driving, and for all we know the driver can claim he or she is fatigued. It's not like you can smell the breath of a text offender and get suspicious. You can ask to see their phone to check for recent texts, but is that not a violation of privacy?

 

The only way this whole text ban initiative is going to thrive is to find a way to block the signal in smart phones while people are out driving on the road. Give it a couple years and I am confident some techy will come up with such a device. I would prefer the U.S. DOT throwing money at research and development here than throwing out a bunch of words that sound good, but mean very little. Now if you would excuse me, I have to get back to my fantasy football.

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