Texting and Driving - Bad Idea
Recently, leaders in transportation, public policy, law enforcement and science came together to discuss how to reduce motor-vehicle crashes resulting from distracted driving through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education. Without any doubt, distracted driving is an epidemic in this country. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a cell phone in 2008 that 6,000 people died in distracted-driving-related vehicle crashes, and that 500,000 were injured.
Distracted driving is often equated with drunk driving. It will take a consistent combination of education, effective enforcement, a committed judiciary and collective efforts by local, state, and national advocates to put a dent in the problem. The danger is most acute among young drivers who have grown up surrounded by hand-held electronic technology. The Pew Research Center says that 70% of 16 and 17 year olds admit they’ve been in a car while the driver was texting.
Most teens have been texting or using hand-held electronics since they were nine or ten years old. They are now getting behind the wheel of a car. Parents need to set clear ground rules for teenage drivers, and then enforcement. Teens need to exert peer pressure and tell friends they won’t ride with then if they text. Employers need to let employees travel to destinations without interruption. And all of us need to use some common sense every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
A growing number of states have legislation pending banning distracted driving in one form or another. The insurance and telecommunications industries are engaged in a search for solutions. On-going discisions have identified a number of promising avenues to minimize the risks of distracted driving, some of which are already in the planning stages.