In the past few years there has been an international explosion in legislation involving texting, most of it involving attempts to discourage texting while driving.
Nearly all European countries have passed international texting laws with restrictions passed elsewhere in the world as well. Here is a list of the major nations that have passed anti-texting legislation:
1. United States
Forty of the 50 states have some degree of texting restrictions, with total banning of texting while driving in more than half of them. Texting by government drivers has been banned since 2009.
The Accident Investigation Board would like to ban all cell phone use while driving, and of course that would eliminate texting. However, despite a major push this summer, Parliament has not done so as yet.
In June a new Act on Driving Licenses took effect June 1, 2011 in an attempt to discourage "distracted driving." For those caught texting three times in a year or four times in two years face possible suspension of their license to drive.
Over 100,000 drivers have been cited and fined since Ireland passed its anti-texting legislation in 2006. The punishments don't seem to be working however, as prosecutions rose last year by ten percent.
A surprising 44% of British drivers admit to texting while driving, despite the fact that the practice has been banned in Great Britain for several years. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents claims that 454 drivers have been killed in distracted driving incidents, and over 2,500 injured.
Ten thousand drivers lost their licenses in Sweden for distracted driving in 2010. Interestingly, although texting while driving is banned, unlike most legislation the general use of cell phones in cars is not banned.
In a one day crackdown on driving and using wireless devices 180 tickets were written, including one for a bus driver who was texting while driving through the downtown area!
The Law on Safety in Traffic enacted in 2009 places heavy fines on those who text while driving, and jail sentences of up to ten days for repeat offenders. Police say that up to 20% of car accidents are the result of improper phone use while driving, including texting.
9. The Philippines
The Department of Justice declared in May of 2011 that drivers can be punished for any act of “operating a motor vehicle inattentively on account of various activities not related to driving.” That of course includes texting.
A forty dollar fine awaits those who text and drive in India, with the government reportedly intent on imposing even stricter penalities soon.
The passing of restrictions on texting and driving appears to be an international trend that is likely to spread to many other countries. Not everyone is supportive of these anti-texting laws. Young people in particular are critical of the bans, but so are safety advocates who argue that texting can be a lifesaver in an emergency.
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