I'll take any opportunity I can to repeat this catchy Wired magazine sound bite ("the trouble with texting while driving isn't the texting,") and the AP has given me another opportunity.

A new UW study came out today, the AP reports in a news brief, that found alarming statistics about commuters texting while driving.

More than 8 percent of drivers in Washington state are distracted by electronic devices, including many who are actively texting on the roadway, according to a study released Monday by the University of Washington.

Researchers compiled their numbers after observing 7,800 motorists at intersections in six counties. The study found that nearly half of drivers using electronic devices were observed texting.

Of the drivers identified as using an electronic device in the UW study, 45 percent were seen texting.

Rather than discouraging texting—or related wi-fi and computing trends like emailing, researching, writing, and reading—during commute time, we should be encouraging this kind of brain time. The Atlantic elaborated on this a few years ago as well, making the point that our networked world could reinvent the commute pointing the way toward the benefits of public transit over single occupancy vehicles.

And, judging from this chart published by Singlepoint Communications last week, showing a dramatic increase among public transit commuters connecting to wi-fi (and/or demanding it), the "texting while driving" problem  is en route to a solution: "texting while commuting."

The common denominator in the UW study and the Singlepoint data is this: texting while commuting—either by car or public transportation—is increasing. That's a clear sign that we should embrace 21st Century technology with 21st Century transportation: Mass transit over cars.


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