It's clear by now that there is a widespread movement to ban text-messaging from behind the wheel of a motor vehicle -- news that many bicyclists will applaud. A state ban in New Hampshire went into effect yesterday, and today's New York Times reports that 200 such bills are pending around the country. Some of the bills would prohibit not only texting, but any cellphone use -- even with a hands-free device.
As cyclists are well aware, the problem with cellphones is that, however they are used, they distract a driver from the road and what's happening nearby. It's like what happens when you're deep in conversation with a riding pal and fail to notice a pothole until it ruins your tire or tosses you over the handlebars.
A cellphone law was proposed in Florida last year and got nowhere. The sponsor, Sen. Frederica Wilson of Miami, is trying again, this time with visible Republican support that should give the modest bill a better chance. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is leading the charge at the national level, and has done a fine job pointing out the dangers of distracted driving.
This could bring as big an improvement in road safety as seat belts and air bags did -- with benefits for all road users and not only the motorists. It's time to do it.