No texting while driving

Tuesday, May 12
As dangerous it is to talk on a cell phone while driving, text messaging while driving, which calls for the driver to look away from the road, is even worse. That was brought home in dramatic fashion last Friday when the operator of a trolley on Boston's Green Line slammed into the back of another train, injuring dozens, while he was text-messaging his girlfriend, and the response of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority should serve as a model for the Legislature.

The two derailed trains had hardly been removed from the tracks when MBTA general manager Daniel Grabauskas made possession of a cell phone, pager or other similar electronic device while on the job a firing offense. This ban should apply to every driver in the state. According to studies, text messaging is that dangerous, as "bad or worse than being drunk behind the wheel," according to Brandon Bogart, founder of In Control Advanced Driver Training, in The Boston Globe.

Massachusetts is one of about 30 states that has legislation pending banning text messaging. Evidence of the need for this ban everywhere is building, with the Boston accident coming several months after a Metrolink train operator in Los Angeles ran a red light while texting, killing 25 and injuring 135. Last fall, a 17-year-old girl from eastern Massachusetts was killed when police believed she looked away from the road to read a text message and crashed, and a New Bedford man who killed a 13-year-old bicyclist while sending a text message as he drove is serving a 2 1/2-year sentence after pleading guilty to motor vehicle homicide.

Text messaging has become part of the culture, which won't change. It has also become a threat to others on roads and trains, and that has to change.


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