Texting and Driving can wait

March 16, 2011
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Texting while driving can wait, don’t let an LOL turn into an OMG. Mariah West was texting and driving the day before her high school graduation. She was heading to the baseball game of a boy she had met the day before, she did not make it to the game. She was a nice; outgoing girl who lived life to the fullest says her family and friends. The boy was texting her the directions to the game; she took her eyes off the road for too long and crashed. “Where you at?” that was the last message she sent. Those three words “where you at” killed her. Was that message worth dying over? Together we need to warn our peers about texting and driving, we can save a life! Most people don’t know but talking or texting while driving are two of the most dangerous behaviors that can take place behind the wheel. If people knew the dangers of texting and driving there would be fewer deaths in this world. In this essay I will explain why more states are making texting and driving illegal; why teens are more at risk behind the wheel; and why texting while driving might end your life.

In 2008 over 800,000 Americans were texting or using hand held phones while driving. Nearly 6,000 Americans where killed by distracted drivers; cell phone use is risky and can be fatal. More and more states are instituting cell phone laws to help protect and keep drivers safe. Currently, 30 states ban texting while driving. In Pennsylvania there are no laws regarding talking or using your cell phone while driving. In 2009 5,474 deaths were a direct result from cell phone use and the state reported 448,000 injuries related to distracted driving. In Connecticut there is a law that states "An operator of a motor vehicle who types, sends or reads a text message with a hand-held mobile telephone or mobile electronic device while such vehicle is in motion shall be in violation." The fine for a first offense will be $100 and a second offense will cost $150 and subsequent offenses will cost the texting offender $200.

Teen drivers are most at risk, a majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone restrictions. Statistics show that 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18-24 are texting while driving. Each year 21% of all fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 29 were a direct result of cell phone usage! This result is expected to grow as much as 4% every year. While the popularity of mobile phones is rising rapidly it is still up for debate how much cell phone use contributes to accidents. What is a proven fact is that cell phone use is the driver’s number one distraction. Over 60% of teens admit risky driving and nearly half of those who say they are risky also text behind the wheel. 50% of all drivers between 18-24 send text messages while driving. Did you know teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into a crash directly related by cell phone use? You are 25% more likely to get into an accident if you text and drive, but you are six times more likely to result in an accident then an intoxicated person! Texting is just as dangerous as drunk driving! Cell phone use on the road is dangerous, parents need to talk to their children about texting and driving.

Sending a message may end your life as well as the life of an innocent person on the road. Distractions on the road lead to bad and dangerous driving. Hopefully, with 3o states now banning cell phone use while driving the roads will become safer. Car companies have begun to put in blue tooth devices in cars so people can talk on their cell phones but still keep their hands on the wheel. People who choose to text will still but themselves and others at risk. You cannot drive safely if your eyes are not on the road. Be the change in the world, help the fight to stop texting and driving. It takes one person at a time.

I strongly suggest everyone to watch AT&T's new ten minute documentary titled "The Last Text," featuring stories of real individuals whose lives have been tremendously affected by texting behind the wheel. I found Mariah’s story in this document. This is an emotional documentary but I suggest you watch it to know the horrors of cell phone use while driving. Don’t waste another minute show this video to everyone you know. Texting and driving can wait.

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