WASHINGTON Tapping out text messages on a cell phone while driving is dangerous, the American Medical Association agreed on Monday, and supported state legislation to ban it.
The group, which represents about 240,000 U.S. physicians, voted to lend its weight to laws that would make it easier for police to pull over drivers who are doing it.
"Texting while driving takes the driver's attention away from the road, which can lead to accidents," said Dr. Peter Carmel, an AMA board member.
"A recent study found that text messaging while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road. No one should have to worry that other drivers are focused on texting instead of traffic. This is about keeping people safe on our roads."
The AMA, meeting in Orlando, Florida, said seven states and Washington, D.C. have bans on text messaging while driving.
Research has shown that talking on cell phones also distracts drivers and can cause more accidents -- even with hands-free devices -- and the AMA supports laws against doing that, too.
The engineer driving a California train that crashed in September, killing 12 people and injuring 135 in the worst U.S. train accident in 15 years, was text-messaging seconds before, federal investigators said.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman)