Should Texting While Driving Be Illegal in Every State?

Arizona, Missouri and a handful of other states still do not have any ban on texting while driving. And most states still allow driving with a hand-held cellphone. This, despite the fact that 3,328 people were killed in 2012 alone in distracted driving crashes, and motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

Should texting while driving be banned in every state? What about driving while using a cellphone?

In the article “A Texting Driver’s Education,” Matt Richtel writes about Reggie Shaw, who at the age of 19 caused a fatal accident while texting and driving. Mr. Shaw is now on a mission against the use of phones behind the wheel:

On Sept. 22, 2006, Reggie Shaw, 19, climbed into his sport utility vehicle to head to a painting job. He picked up a Pepsi at the local gas station and started over the mountain pass between Tremonton, Utah, his hometown, and Logan, the big city to the east, near the Idaho border.

It was 6:30 in the morning, and freezing rain was falling. Just behind Reggie was John Kaiserman, a farrier, who was driving a truck and trailer carrying a thousand pounds of horseshoes and equipment. Mr. Kaiserman noticed Reggie swerve several times across the yellow divider and thought: This guy is going to cause us all some trouble.

Reggie came over a big crest and headed down a hill, traveling around 55 miles an hour as he hit a flat stretch. He crossed the yellow divider again. This time, he clipped a Saturn heading the other direction on the two-lane highway. Inside the Saturn were two men, Jim Furfaro and Keith O’Dell, commuting to work.

The Saturn spun out of control and across the road, behind Reggie, and was hit broadside by the farrier. The Saturn slammed into a gully, and Mr. Furfaro and Mr. O’Dell were killed.

One hundred yards down the road, Reggie came to a stop, unhurt, his Chevrolet Tahoe virtually unscathed. An investigation ensued, and a historic prosecution. The facts showed that Reggie had been texting — 11 texts sent and received in the minutes and seconds around the crash, maybe right at the moment of the crash, though for more than two years Reggie denied it.

Students: Read the entire article, then tell us …

— Should texting while driving be banned in every state? What about driving while using a cellphone?

— Why do you think many teenagers still choose to text and drive, even though it has been proven to be so dangerous — even more dangerous than drunken driving?

— Do you think Americans, and especially teenagers, are aware that texting while driving is extremely dangerous? Does the country need a better awareness program?

— Or do you think states need to pass even stiffer laws (or any laws in some states) to crack down on distracted driving?

— Would you support your phone carrier developing a system to block incoming and outgoing texts from reaching the driver, like the one described in this article?