Driving while…

A story in the Dallas Morning News provides a useful update on the status of legislation related to driving and some insights into the Texas mind when it’s behind the wheel.

The issue of cellphone use while driving is best summed up in this quote from Representative Joe Pickett (El Paso): “Our cars are different in Texas. We want to be able to carry guns, spit, chew, call on our cellphones or sharpen our knives while driving. Texas is unique.”

I can’t improve much on that explanation of why Texas has always lagged behind much of the nation on driving laws. However, Rep. Pickett was mistaken on the claim that Texas is only state that was a country. As we point out on page 22 of the book, Vermont was also an independent nation before joining the U.S. Most Texans are not aware of this and the legend of Texas’ independence will have an impact even if it’s not entirely true. Anyway, it’s not clear what the independent status of Texas has to do with state laws on driving while talking on a cell phone.

As the article points out cell phones contributing to more than 13,000 accidents, including 126 deaths, in Texas over the last four years. The issue will not go away. It will give insurance companies another excuse for why Texas has some of the highest rates in the nation. In the meantime, it looks like we’re going to spend another couple of years dodging cell-phone impaired drivers.

5/6/09 Update: The story has gone national with a story on CNN. The case is also featured on  Anderson Cooper’s “AC360” show tonight on CNN.

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