The deaths of two Arizona women this week are shifting focus to on potential state legislation to ban the practice of text-messaging behind the wheel, says the Arizona Republic. Police believe a driver, 18, drifted across the center line because she was text-messaging on her cellphone. She collided with a woman, 40. The deaths are the latest in a national debate as more states scramble to implement laws regulating the use of cellphones while driving.
California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington, D.C., have laws banning cellphone use by drivers, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. A Washington state law outlawing text-messaging while driving takes effect Jan. 1. A spring survey by AAA and Seventeen magazine of 1,000 teenagers indicated that young drivers engage in risky behavior behind the wheel. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed said they text-message while driving, and 51 percent said they talk on cellphones. Kristinn Heinrichs, a physical therapist at Arizona State University, said studies show that young people who multitask while driving reduce their reaction time to that of an 80-year-old. “That risky driving behavior causes more of a risk on the road than elderly, experienced drivers,” Heinrichs said.