Youth Don’t Get The Message About Texting…

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Tips
By Doris Aiken, President of Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID)
Two weeks ago around 11AM, I was driving on State Street the main drag in downtown Schenectady. I turned off to a side street and 50 feet from that intersection, a young woman holding a smart phone in front of her, walked right in front of my car without looking up. She continued unimpeded from texting her message as well as crossing the street.

Seeing the face of this young woman so engaged in texting while oblivious to the dangers of walking directly in the middle of a busy street made me wonder if society is doing enough to get the message out there that texting while driving is dangerous. The youth of today is so attached to their social devices, some are like addicts who have to be constantly texting, tweeting or E-mailing their friends.

While those drivers who indulge in texting and drinking have different effects on their abilty to operate a vehicle the end result is the same; potential death or serious injury. In 2011 according to the National Highway Safety Administration, in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared to 416,000 people injured in 2010.

The Center for Disease Control study on distracted drivers revealed that the problem of texting in more prevalent in the United States than it is in Europe:

31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.

In Europe, this percentage ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal.

There have been tragedies caused by texting which have resulted in TV campaigns to discourage texting while driving. As someone who spearheaded the notion that drunk driving is a crime, I believe their needs be a perceptual change by the public on how they view someone texting while driving and to a lesser degree talking on their cell phones. Here are some improvements which will help shape the idea that texting and driving don’t mix:

* Many states are enacting laws–such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers–to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring. However, the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on decreasing distracted driving-related crashes requires further study.

* On September 30, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment.

*On October 27, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.

Drunk driving accounts for three times more deaths than distracted drivers.  But 23% of all crashes, 1.3 Million(NHSTA) are attributed to distracted drivers and that figure appears to be going up. Until there is a social stigma when a driver is focusing on texting while they’re behind the wheel, this trend will continue to rise.

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