Deciding when to read and send text messages involves manners as well as safety. Lifestyle sections usually have tips about etiquette - a word for polite behavior - in a column on dating, manners or personal advice. See if you can find a helpful feature like that.
Text messaging can expose a "digital divide" based on age. Spot an article, photo or ad illustrating another pop culture area that may separate pupils from parents or students from teachers.
Consumer electronics and technology coverage appears regularly, not just when dramatic news hits the front page. Look for an article or ad of interest, such as one involving music downloads or players, gaming, wireless communication, software or laptops.
An awful rail crash near Los Angeles draws fresh attention to the risk of glancing at a text messaging keypad while doing something else - especially something as critical and unforgiving as controlling a train. Records show an engineer exchanged electronic notes with a 14-year-old train buff while operating a train with about 225 commuters that raced through a red light and smashed head-on into a freight train Sept. 12.
Twenty-five people died, including the engineer, and 134 were injured. The accident is the worst U.S. train collision in 15 years. Days later, California officials issued an emergency order banning the use of any cellular device by engineers at the controls of a moving train. Those regulators and others urged federal limits on wireless communicators such as iPhones and BlackBerries that can distract on-duty train personnel.
The dramatic accident adds urgency to efforts around the country to prohibit the use of cell phones or texting tools by teens or adults who need to keep both hands on a steering wheel and their minds on driving. California's Legislature recently passed a bill banning such behavior, as five other states (Alaska, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington) did earlier. Seven other states (New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Nevada and Delaware) have similar bills pending. Baltimore last week barred its 13,000 municipal employees from using cell phones, digital music players or other personal electronic devices while driving on city business.
Doctor says: "There isn't an emergency physician around who hasn't heard of or personally taken care of a patient injured while doing something else while attempting to text or talk on a cell phone." - Dr. Mark Melrose, hospital emergency department head in Montclair, N.J. .
Lawmaker says: "We have had far too many tragic incidents around the country that are painful proof that this is a terrible problem." - Joe Simitian, California state senator
Safety group says: Drivers who use cell phones on the road are four times as likely to be in a crash as drivers who do not. - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, research center in Arlington, Va.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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