Before there was a sufficient amount of statistics available to identify the risk drivers take when they text and drive, people did it all the time.
However, one after another the states started initiating bans on texting while driving, led by Washington state back in 2007. Currently, 41 states, including Georgia, have a blanket ban on text messaging for all drivers.
More states hop on the list all the time. Florida’s ban took effect just in October of this year. There are some states still holding out, our neighbor to the northeast South Carolina is one example, but there is a statewide push on the issue.
Whatever the legislation in your state reads, the nationwide statistics show that texting while driving is dangerous, plain and simple. Let’s look at why you should put the phone down and drive.
What’s the Big Deal?
If it only takes a second to type in a quick “coming home for dinner” it should be alright, right? Wrong. According to The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, and 11% of drivers aged 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted they were sending or receiving texts when they crashed. People who claim they can keep one eye on the road and safely fire off a few quick texts are fooling themselves.
Unfortunately, it’s taken a number of years to compile statistics that showcase just how dangerous texting while driving is, but most states are taking a very close look at their records. Emerging safety issues like this one can be tracked through theModel Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria which is a standardized data set kept by the vast majority of states, including Georgia, that catalogs descriptions of motor vehicle crashes and the people and circumstances involved. In these accident reports the “distraction” category is the one texting while driving falls under, and the data collected has been valuable in helping to guide sensible policy for our roadways. So if you think it’s no big deal, there is a rap sheet of records in your state that would disagree.
Following the Law
Safety isn’t the only incentive for setting the phone down. Each state approaches it differently–make sure you understand yours.
Getting away with it might not be as easy as you’d think either. In our state, texting while driving is a primary offence, which means if a cop sees or suspects you of violating this law that will be all they need to pull you over and issue a citation.
What Can I Do?
It’s great that the statistics are now available, but it’s still important to help spread the word. The FCC makes a few suggestions on how we might do that:
Give Clear Instructions – Give teen drivers simple, clear instructions not to use their wireless devices while driving. “On the road, off the phone.”
Lead by Example – Children learn from their parent’s behavior. No one should text and drive.
Become Informed and Be Active – Set rules for yourself and your household regarding distracted driving. Tell family, friends and organizations to which you belong about the importance of driving without distractions.
The body of evidence is too great to ignore, texting while driving is dangerous. Take your pick of reasons to put the phone down and drive- it’s against the law, there is a tremendous risk of hurting yourself or others or you may be helping to pass on a harmful habit to your children. The risk is great, and the reasons are many, so when you’re out on the roads, don’t be on your phone.