The initial stats do not detail how those fatal crashes occurred, although obvious factors like drunk driving and excessive speed will play their traditional roles. It would be interesting to see if any reliable data will emerge about deaths linked to texting -- the road safety cause du jour.
Texting while driving, however, is uniquely dangerous -- it forces drivers to use their eyes AND hands on something other than the wheel, and for considerable lengths of time. A strong story in Car & Driver found texting to be even more dangerous than drunk driving. So I'm sold. I support adding texting behavior as a clearly defined form of reckless driving, something that cops can act upon should they see it, something that awareness campaigns can be built around.
I disagree, however, that cellphone use poses an equal danger, especially given the voice-activated technologies that allow no-look, no-hands calling. I don't see cell phone talking as any more dangerous than changing the radio station, or reaching for a map, or eating while driving, or having a serious conversation, or dealing with a misbehaving child in the car. Or truckers, taxis, delivery people, cops and emergency responders talking on their radios. One can only hope that cops aren't using their computer keyboards while driving.
I'm not at all sure how the police could enforce a texting ban, but this wouldn't be close to the first hard-to-enforce law on our books. So that's not a major reason for me to oppose such a ban. I just want our political leaders at least aim at the right target by staying focused on texting, and only texting.
An over-reaching cell phone ban will be ignored for being non-reasonable, much like the vast majority of drivers who routinely ignore unrealistically low speed limits.