It’s true. Webster’s New World College Dictionary has selected “distracted driving” as the 2009 Word of the Year. This is both good and bad news. Good because it draws attention to what amounts to a driving epidemic — texting and talking behind the wheel. Bad because it follows the curious trend of naming two-word phrases like “carbon neutral” the Word of the Year. Regardless, Webster’s aptly explains its selection:
A sign of the times surely, distracted driving is another reflection — and consequence — of our ongoing romance with all things digital and mobile and the enhanced capabilities they provide.
With the advent of sophisticated smart phones like the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and the Nexus One, drivers have more distracting technology than ever before. In an effort to discourage distracted driving, many states are enacting and enforcing laws against the use of cell phones behind the wheel.
As of today, 6 states ban handheld phones for all drivers: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington. Apart from Washington, these bans are classified as “primary enforcement,” meaning officers will ticket a driver caught chatting.
Nineteen states ban text messaging for all drivers, too. Get the full list here.
Let’s face it. It’s tempting to pick up that buzzing phone as you drive. Next time you’re behind the wheel, consider the new golden rule of the road — Drive next to others as you’d have others drive next to you.