The good news: Telcos have finally figured out how to get Americans to text: Monthly message volume has risen more than 10X in the last three years, to 75 billion. The bad news, as reported by Jennifer Steinhauer and Laura Holson of the NYT:
[A]s industry calculations show that Americans are now using mobile phones to send or receive more text messages than phone calls, those messages are coming under increasing fire because of the danger they can pose by distracting users. Though there are no official casualty statistics, there is much anecdotal evidence that the number of fatal accidents stemming from texting while driving, crossing the street or engaging in other activities is on the rise.
“The act of texting automatically removes 10 I.Q. points,” said Paul Saffo, a technology trend forecaster in Silicon Valley. “The truth of the matter is there are hobbies that are incompatible. You don’t want to do mushroom-hunting and bird-watching at the same time, and it is the same with texting and other activities. We have all seen people walk into parking meters or walk into traffic and seem startled by oncoming cars.”
In the latest backlash against text-messaging, the California Public Utilities Commission announced an emergency measure on Thursday temporarily banning the use of all mobile devices by anyone at the controls of a moving train.
The ban was adopted after federal investigators announced that they were looking at the role that a train engineer’s text-messaging might have played here last week in the country’s most deadly commuter rail accident in four decades.
A California lawmaker is also seeking to ban text-messaging by drivers, a step already taken by a handful of other states. “We have had far too many tragic incidents around the country that are painful proof that this is a terrible problem,” said the legislator, State Senator Joe Simitian, who wrote the California law requiring drivers who are talking on a mobile phone to use hands-free devices.
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