As you are driving down the freeway at 80mph to get to work, your cell phone buzzes to let you know that you just received an email. You snatch up the phone with one h and while the other holds the steering wheel, as you read and laugh over the satirical digital newsletter about the world’s dumbest drivers.
As you swerve to miss a loading van, you decide to send a text message about the email to your friend at the office. With both h ands typing on the tiny keyboard on your cell phone, you rely on your knee on the steering wheel ( and your cousin Billy Bob’s mechanical genius on repairing cars) to guide your high speeding vehicle down the road.
The irony should be obvious. Driving while all your attention is focused on typing out a text to a friend you are going to see in the next 20 minutes at work is dangerous. Both h ands are off the steering wheel, you are traveling at high speeds, and your eyes and attention are split between typing out the text and staying in your traffic lane. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,092 people were killed in vehicle crashes in 2010 that had involved a distracted driver and 416,000 people were injured in vehicle accidents caused by a distracted driver. In addition, text messaging while you are distracted creates a 23-times greater risk in causing a serious crash than a driver who is paying attention to the road.
Individual States Take Action To Ban Texting While Driving
When people hear statistics like this, some will start shaking their heads and proclaiming to the sky that they are an excellent driver who can multitask. But why would you multitask while driving several tons of moving metal down the road at dangerous speeds? Why would you risk your safety, the safety of your passengers, the safety of other drivers, and the safety of pedestrians all because you can’t wait to park your car and turn it off before sending a text message?
With the growing concerns of distracted drivers causing serious accidents while texting, the government has stepped in to introduce bills to address this dangerous problem. In 2009, the Distracted Driving Prevention Act and the ALERT Drivers Act encourages states to take action in creating laws about drivers and texting, according to Consumer Reports. While one government act gives financial incentives to states who create texting bans, the other act takes away state funding for highway services in an attempt to force states to become proactive towards the problem.
As stated by The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, text messaging has been banned in 38 states, including California, for all drivers. Only 5 states ban texting for drivers under the age of 21 or for novice drivers who only have their learner’s permit. The states that have not created a ban are Arizona, Florida, Montana, South Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina.
Keep Your Teens Safe Behind The Wheel
Even if you decide to practice highway safety, your teen drivers might still feel the itch of placing their typing fingers on the phone’s keyboard while driving. As the Federal Communications Commission stresses, parents need to talk with their children about driving safely. Discuss how important their lives are and that no message is important enough to become distracted while behind the steering wheel.
Also, lead by example yourself and show your kids at an early age that you can keep your h ands off the cell phone while driving.