VIA PC MAG:
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has been urging viewers to make their cars a “no phone zone” for weeks now, and she has joined forces with a variety of transportation safety organizations to designate Friday as “No Phone Zone Day.”
Winfrey is asking people to sign the “no phone zone” pledge on her Web site, a promise to not text while driving, not text and use hands-free calling, or not text or make calls while driving. As of Friday morning, Winfrey has secured 228,076 signatures, including a variety of high-profile celebrities who have appeared on her show.
“A call or text isn’t worth taking a life,” Winfrey said in a statement. “We must not allow more mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers to die before we take action against distracted driving. Let’s put a stop to it now, by joining together on April 30 for national ‘No Phone Zone Day’, and by making our cars a ‘No Phone Zone.’”
Winfrey has the support of the Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Organizations for Youth Safety, FocusDriven, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and RADD, the entertainment industry’s voice for road safety.
“I’ve made it my mission at the DOT to end distracted driving,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “We know that if we can get people to put away cell phones and other electronic devices when they are behind the wheel, we can save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of injuries every year.”
Winfrey will dedicate Friday’s show to phone safety. She also has a variety of resources about texting while driving on her Web site.
According to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have laws banning texting while driving. Eight states have partial bans on texting while driving, which primarily apply to novice drivers or school bus drivers who have minors in their vehicles.
There have been a number of studies released in the last year studying the effect of texting on a driver’s reaction time. A July 2009 report from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash by 20 times.
A December 2009 study from the University of Utah found similar results. Researchers said that the practice significantly increases the chance of having an accident – more so than talking on the phone or simply reading a text message while behind the wheel.