Carmakers Support U.S. Ban on Texting While Driving

September 23, 2009

Big automakers expressed support Wednesday for banning American drivers from text messaging with a hand-held device, a safety issue that the U.S. government will examine at a “distracted drivers” conference next week.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents all domestic and several overseas carmakers, said in a statement that writing or reading text messages affects a driver’s ability to operate a car safely.

“Clearly, using a hand-held device to text or call while driving is a safety risk,” said Dave McCurdy, the group’s president.

More than a dozen U.S. states have passed laws banning texting while driving. Fewer have made cellphone use illegal while driving, a practice that automakers do not oppose in all circumstances.

The U.S. Transportation Department will host a distracted driving conference next week in Washington with safety, technology and other experts. The meeting will also explore legislative and regulatory approaches.

Legislation proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York would withhold 25 percent of federal highway money from states that do not ban texting while driving.

(Reporting by John Crawley, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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