The group of almost a quarter million physicians decided to throw its weight behind various state efforts to ban text messaging while driving. The group took up the headline-grabbing issue at its semi-annual policy meeting in Orlando.
Seven states and Washington, D.C., have laws against motorists using texting devices.
While bans on cell phone use while driving have proved controversial, the idea that texting and driving don’t mix seems to be widely accepted, especially in the wake of the Southern California commuter train crash apparently caused by an engineer who was distracted by texting.
“Texting while driving takes the driver’s attention away from the road, which can lead to accidents,” said Peter Carmel, an AMA board member. “A recent study found that text messaging while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
“No one should have to worry that other drivers are focused on texting instead of traffic,” Carmel said, speaking for the medical group. “This is about keeping people safe on our roads.”
The powerful physicians group said Nov. 10 that it will “support additional states in their quest to ban text messaging by motorists. In addition, the new AMA policy encourages physicians to educate patients on the public health risks associated with driving while distracted with text messages and cell phones.”
Texting and driving bans have been adopted in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington, and the District of Columbia.