Texting and Driving

October 27, 2010
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Bill was the perfect kid. Everyone liked him and he got nothing but straight A’s in school. He never took drugs or even touched a beer in his life. One day he was driving home after he finished a social studies project at his friends. Bill never reached home. While going through a 4-way intersection, he read a text and didn’t see the SUV coming the other way. The car was on him like a missile and he died instantly. He made a mistake, and it ended up costing him his life. Suddenly all the people who loved him and looked up to him had an enormous hole in their hearts. His parents were going to miss some countless memories like him get married, have children, and growing up because he died of a simple text message. Unfortunately, situations like this one are occurring more and more. In order to increase driving safety, you need to take more driving precautions with your cell phone, and the government needs to enforce texting while driving laws more.

One reason some action needs to be taken is the shocking statistics and consequences about distracted driving. The Pew Internet and American Life Project’s surveys showed that 75% of kids between the ages of twelve and seventeen have a cell phone; 34% of them said they have texted and driven before. This is a reason for concern. It’s incredibly tempting for those kids to pull out their cell phone and start texting while they are on the road. Deaths from distracted driving and drunk driving are quite similar. The NHTSA found out that 5,870 people were killed along with 515,000 people, some of which were young children, nationwide being injured because of distracted driving in 2008 alone. Compare that to 11,773 people who died in drunk driving accidents. Another stunning statistic is that 16% of all fatal crashes involving kids 20 years or younger was because of distracted driving. That’s a significant amount of kids with potentially bright futures that lost their lives. Imagine if that was you or a family member that was killed because of something as simple as a text message. What if you were the one who killed someone while texting? How would you deal with the guilt? I believe that these figures should stand out to the government, and require them to take action against it.

Although the government is beginning to help solve this problem, they could help further by implementing laws against texting while driving, and police officer could enforce laws that are already passed. Only eighteen states had texting while driving laws in 2009. That’s thirty-two states where texting is okay in a car. Sure, some cities per state have made it illegal to text and drive, but every state needs to make these laws official. That would send a message to all drivers, new or old, that the government is serious about preventing it. Both national and local governments are already beginning to take positive action toward texting while driving laws. For example, Congress has proposed a bill that would give states that ban texting while driving laws more money. As a teen, you could get together in your town and send a letter to a local representative stating your concerns and possible solutions to the problem. The government is beginning to introduce laws to help with this monumental problem, but you can also help by being more careful and helping yourself stay safe while driving.

If you get in a car accident as a teen, the police will suspend your license until you’re 18. You will lose all driving privileges until you reach the proper age. That would mean you have to have your parents take you everywhere. These simple precautions could keep you safe and allow you to keep your license. Some drivers are already taking a precaution by giving their phone to a friend or putting it away before they begin to drive. This is an excellent idea because it completely eliminates the distraction of using your cell phone. I know when I ride with my mom or dad, their phone is either in the pocket door or sitting in a cup holder away from them. Another precaution you could take is to put your phone at eye level if you do need to look at a text. If it is entirely essential that you look at a text, even though you should ignore it if at all possible, you could at least see what the car in front of you is doing if your phone is up near your eyes. One final precaution you could possibly take is putting your phone on silent or turning it off completely. This way if you get a text, you won’t hear it and you won’t pay any attention to your phone. I know some people might not like this idea because a parent might need to get a hold of you, even though that is a hazard within itself; it might end up saving your life if their texts could wait until you reach your destination. These basic precautions could make your driving experience much safer.

Driving and your social life are probably among the most significant parts of your life right now. Your safety and your future should be very important too. All you need to do is take simple precautions and warn people about the dangers of texting and driving. Warn your parents. Warn your friends. Warn everyone you know. Next time you or a family member starts to drive, think about what it would be like if that person no longer existed. What would it be like without them? With a minimal amount of help from the government and taking some action yourself, you could avoid a fatal mistake.

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