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AAA working towards making it illegal to text while driving

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Some of the major cellular phone companies are scrambling to pitch the message to the public to not try to text-message and drive. It was bad enough when cell phones first became popular because some people have enough trouble driving without any distractions let alone trying to listen and speak on the phone while maneuvering an automobile in traffic.

But then along came headphones, ear buds and blue tooth apparatus that allowed us to still speak on the phone yet left our hands free to grip the steering wheel where they belonged in the first place. Well, those days are over and taking over as a new form of distraction for drivers of all ages is texting while driving. The process of texting actually requires you to take your eyes off the road, look at your phone and use both hands – or thumbs – to return a message to the person who texted you.

The American Auto Club, or AAA, is proposing a legal ban on texting while driving. While this makes sense to anyone who has almost had an accident or even worse, anyone who has lost a loved one as a result of someone driving while distracted, the cell phone companies are worried about losing business.

AT& T has just begun a campaign which called for its employees to refrain from texting while driving. The company has also promised to work on getting the message across to young people who make up the largest group of texters.

Other companies are following suit in addressing the dangers of texting while driving. Pioneer Cellular, a Midwest cell phone company is urging its users to hold off texting until they get to a stoplight.

But any efforts by cell phone companies may be too little too late. Encouraged by the results of a ban on texting while driving in California, the state realized a 70 percent drop in the number of people texting while driving. The popularity of texting has grown by leaps and bounds through the last few years and statistics have shown that there were more than 110 billion text messages sent in 2008. That is more than eleven times the number of text messages that were sent just three years ago.

While the cellular phone companies are trying to quickly jump on the bandwagon and try to cut down on people texting while driving, the big picture is that they do not want AAA to take the issue to court to make it illegal to text and drive. Currently, eighteen states along with the District of Columbia have laws in place that have restrictions regarding texting while driving. Two other states prohibit teenagers and any other new drivers from texting while driving.

But the goal of AAA is to make it illegal in all 50 states to text while driving by 2013. The group is beginning its campaign in Oklahoma through lobbying efforts and with a presentation before the Public Safety Committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on October 8 at the Capital building.