Statestats: Driven to Distraction: December 2009

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Illustration of girl in a car texting

One trillion text messages were sent last year, according to the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry. That’s up about 20 billion over the last three years. Many of these text messages were sent by drivers.

Also on the increase is the number of state legislatures passing laws to ban texting while driving. As of September, 18 states and the District of Columbia outlaw text messaging while driving. Eleven of those states passed laws this year. In all, 27 states considered texting-while-driving bans in 2009.

Congress, too, is considering a federal ban on texting while driving. In July, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York introduced the “Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act” (ALERT Drivers Act) in the Senate. The bill would require each state to enact a law prohibiting text messaging while driving by a certain date, or face losing 25 percent of the state’s highway funds.