The announcement Thursday by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood of a pilot program to address the problem of texting and driving came the same day that a Massachusetts study revealed that 42 percent of high students (including 61 percent of seniors) admit they text while behind the wheel. This dismaying trend must be attacked on several fronts.
Washington will spend $2.4 million to assist in greater enforcement of laws in California and Delaware banning texting and cellphone use while driving. A similar program in Hartford, Connecticut had great success. A law passed in Massachusetts two years ago addressing cellphone use and texting while behind the wheel fell short by not banning all hand-held devices, forcing police officers to make judgment calls that hamper enforcement.
Public health agencies have had some success addressing drunken driving through education and ad campaigns encouraging a designated driver. Similar imaginative efforts will have to be made on this front as well.
There are too many stories in the paper of young people who are killed or crippled because of accidents caused by speeding or drunken driving. The drivers, if they survive, end up in court, their lives forever altered. Texting will produce more of the same unless young drivers, with help from their elders, drive more responsibly.