Distracted driving laws and the value of texting bans is a hot topic lately. As more state leaders take on this issue, we must remember that legislative efforts are only part of the solution. Curbing distracted driving doesn’t end with texting bans. It begins with them.
Texting while driving is a real problem that threatens the safety of all Americans. Even at a time when fatality data tells us that our roads have never been safer, more can and must be done to save the thousands of lives lost to distracted driving. For too many families, death by distracted driving is a preventable tragedy.
The Highway Loss Data Institute recently reported that states with texting bans do not show a decrease in the number of car crashes. This data may lead many to believe that bans are ineffective and texting while driving isn’t as dangerous as we’ve been led to believe. That’s a dangerous assumption and will only lead to more deaths on our roadways.
Legislation is only the first step. To have real impact, laws must be rigorously enforced so that the consequence for texting while driving is a severe penalty — not the end of a life. Many drivers will cling to dangerous driving habits until they become both illegal and publically frowned upon. We must change the American driving culture so that texting while driving is socially unacceptable.
When combined with law enforcement and public education programs, legislation can create a powerful shift in safe driving norms. This three-step approach to roadway safety is not new. This same formula led to major reductions in alcohol-related crashes. It wasn’t until pop culture took on drinking and driving that Americans learned to designate drivers; and enforcement of DUIs turned the irresponsible drinker into a killer on the road. Similarly, drivers and passengers who refused to buckle up began to click their seatbelt after seeing active police enforcement and education campaigns along America’s roadways.
Allstate’s family of agency owners and employees believe even one life lost to car crashes is unacceptable. It’s why we’re protecting all drivers — but especially teens — from forming dangerous habits like texting while driving. Nearly a year ago we launched a national campaign called “X the TXT” to educate Americans and make texting while driving as taboo as drinking and driving. We also support enactment of the STANDUP Act, a tough national graduated driver licensing law aimed at our youngest, most impressionable drivers. When combined with enforceable laws, these programs can help instill a lifetime of safe driving attitudes and behaviors and make roads safer for all American families. I encourage you to visit www.facebook.com/XtheTXT and www.facebook.come/Save11 to learn more.
Every American has an obligation to stay focused on the road and protect one another. I admit, it’s not always easy. The cell phone has become an extension of our daily life and our need to connect has never seemed so urgent. But what’s more important than saving a life?
We have an opportunity to create a safer driving environment today and for future generations. We must act now by bringing together the most powerful resources we can to enact tough legislation, enforce laws with real consequences and change driving attitudes and behaviors.
Joan H. Walker is senior vice president of corporate relations for Allstate Insurance Co.