The damage estimates are staggering, 2,600 deaths, 342,000 injuries and 42 billion dollars in economic losses, all attributable to distracted driving. These numbers compiled by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis seem almost inconceivable.

270 million cell phones and 136 million cars don't mix well. The consensus from this last weeks convocation in Washington is that enforcement is the key. Analogizing texting while driving to drinking and driving, it seems that the only effective deterrent is to penalize non-compliant motorists.

The problem is that states, including Maryland and Virginia, have passed such watered-down laws that enforcement will be very difficult. Quite simply, Marylanders are allowed to read text and phone messages and enter numbers into their phones while driving. Obviously, it would be difficult for charging officers to distinguish which drivers are illegally texting and which are legally studying their phones in equally dangerous behavior.

In Virginia officers can only ticket phone abusers as a secondary violation, meaning that they can only pull over a driver for other illegal driving behavior first and ticket cell phone misuse second.

It seems clear that injuries and wrongful deaths will continue to pile up in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere until laws and their enforcement are made more effective.
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