What is “webbing” – and why does it need to be banned?

You probably know that “distracted driving” has become the accepted term for any actions that visually, manually or cognitively distract people behind the wheel.

“Webbing” evidently describes the specific act of web browsing while driving. This dangerous practice is becoming increasingly common.  A State Farm poll found a 48% increase in smartphone web use while driving – and this is only those who would openly admit this unsafe behavior to an insurance company.

That is a lot of people who think they can safely operate 2,500 pounds of motor vehicle while checking Facebook.

In this short video from Cars.com, cameras are placed around a car for an average morning commute to see how many people would drive 20-40 mph in heavy traffic while using their smartphones.

Most states have banned texting while driving. Only 10–including Oregon, Washington and California–have completely banned the use of a hand-held device, and effectively outlawing webbing (see below).

States without an outright ban on smartphone use while driving are not keeping pace with technology. State laws that ban only texting were relevant in a pre-smartphone world where phones were just useful for texts and calling. They also don’t account for how the design of smartphones requires visual and manual interaction, even to use the hands-free function.

Map of states with hand-held cellphone bans (IIHS)

Over 3,000 auto accident deaths were attributed to distracted driving in 2010; another 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents. States banning all smartphone use while driving – including webbing – could go a long way toward preventing more fatalities.