To Text or Not to Text?

We’ve all seen the commercials about the dangers of texting while behind the wheel of a car. But, just how dangerous is texting while driving?

Whether or not you text and drive, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look to see why authorities continuously urge us to put the phone down, while in route to our destinations.

What Statistics Show

Most states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban texting while driving. Is there research that backs the claim that texting while driving can be hazardous? Absolutely, according to evidence presented by Ad Council, a driver who texts is 23 times more likely to get into an accident, as opposed to a non-texting driver.

A car crash from being distracted by texting is 100 percent preventable.
A car crash from being distracted by texting is 100 percent preventable.

The Ad Council also suggests that the average text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for roughly five seconds. Furthermore, when traveling at the speed of 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field, blind. This means that texting behind the wheel leaves very little room for distraction and/or error.

How do I determine if I’m distracted while driving? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from driving. All distractions have the propensity to jeopardize the safety of bystanders, drivers and passengers.

A Million Texters on the Road

There are a million people who text while driving every day, because they feel pressured to remain in constant contact with people. Having your finger on the pulse of what’s going on around you is not the issue, it’s the fact that many drivers don’t realize the dangers associated with taking their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel, even for a split second. Others are aware of the impending dangers of texting and driving, but choose not to fight the urge to do so.

Why is this the case? Apparently, many believe texting while driving is urgent and can not wait. One reason for wanting to stay connected with others while driving is because we live in a world where multitasking is a bit of the norm; with that said, it’s hard for this lifestyle not to spread to driving, too.

So Many Texts, So Little Time

Still not convinced that texting while driving is a recipe for disaster? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for at least 4.6 seconds.

Nonetheless, in recent years texting while driving has become such an epidemic, that the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration joined forces with the State Attorneys General to launch Public Service Announcements (PSA) in a campaign called, “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.”

Everybody Can Win

One highly respected media mogul has lent her voice to this cause, Oprah Winfrey. In a startling revelation, we learn that nearly 500,000 people are injured and 6,000 are killed each year because drivers are texting, e-mailing and talking while behind the wheel.

Winfrey shared her thoughts about texting in a no texting campaign and has instituted ‘Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge.’ What is ‘Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge? First introduced just a few short years’ ago, the pledge is designed to reiterate the importance of not texting while driving. To date, the pledge has been recognized with roughly 423,330 signatures.

Concerned about the welfare and safety of others, Winfrey has used her celebrity to urge would-be texters to, “Let it be the end, the end of you using a cell phone or sending a text message when you are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. And until we as a nation decide we’re going to change that, those numbers are only going to go up.”

There’s an App for That

Many well-known companies such as AT&T are doing their part to contribute to the no text movement. The company has made available for Android and BlackBerry an App that automatically sends a customized reply to incoming texts, similar to an “out-of-office” autoreply. The App also disables all ingoing and outgoing calls and Web browsing. And, users must manually enable the App prior to driving.

Coming to Terms with Reality

Texting behind the wheel is wildly popular, not to mention dangerous. However, a car crash from being distracted by texting is 100 percent preventable. At the very least there always is the option of pulling over to respond to a text message.

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-Kimberly Williams

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