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In this article, we consider the legal and policy implications of distracted driving (the tendency of people to use electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle). After reviewing the empirical evidence showing that distracted driving has serious adverse consequences, we discuss the legal basis for governmental interventions to reduce distracted driving. These interventions include laws restricting the use of electronic devices while driving, especially sending text messages. Since drivers have at best a reduced expectation of privacy, these restrictions should easily survive legal challenges. At the same time, it is important to consider the responsibility of automobile manufacturers to improve safety though design changes. We also advocate health education to change social norms to reduce distracted driving.

Publication Citation

303 JAMA 1419-1420 (2010)