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Texting While Driving – A Dangerous Combination

Posted on September 20, 2008

The news this week was shocking — a Metrolink engineer was texting around the time he ran a commuter train into a freight train. They didn’;t even see any attempt to stop.25 people died and Los Angeles area officials quickly banned the use of all mobile devices by anyone at the controls of a moving train.

But isn’;t that commonsense anyway?Have you ever tried to text even when you are stopped? S.N.S. or short message service takes complete concentration AND two hands.How could anyone drive even a wagon and be texting?

Still the Wireless Association says there were 75 billion text messages sent in June, up from 7.2 billion in June 2005.

And an estimated 20 percent of drivers are texting while behind the wheel according to a Nationwide Insurance study. Among young people between the ages of 18 to 24, that number skyrockets to 66 percent.

In the spring of 2007, a crash in suburban Rochester killed five teenage female friends when they collided with a tractor trailer. The five had just graduated from high school. All of the girls died. Police discovered the driver had been texting just before the crash.

A British study finds that texting while driving impairs driving skills more than being drunk or on drugs.In one poll in London, 48 percent of the young drivers, up to the age of 24, admit they text while driving.And drivers tend to drive out of their lanes and drift into another more often while texting.

Even texting while walking across the street is a hazard with people texting and walking into parked cars or parking meters.

Florida was among 17 states considering making it illegal for 15 to 17-year-old drivers to talk on cell phones while driving. Everyone would be forbidden from texting messaging while behind the wheel. It was introduced by Sen. Carey Baker R-Eustis, who pointed out that Florida’;s teen drivers have the third-worst crash record in the nation.

Traffic accidents are already the number one cause of death for teenage drivers but the bill met resistance from the phone companies and died in committee in May.

There would be confusion if you were pulled over to the side of the road using the phone and the car was still running. Would you be operating a vehicle?David Ramba, a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry told Tampabay.com “It would cause us problems, trying to explain to our customers what’;s legal.”

There doesn’;t seem to be as much concern about explaining the complexities of our phone bills.

Five states restrict driving while talking, Washington state, New Jersey, Louisiana, Alaska, Minnesota. Unfortunately, Florida will not be joining them this time around.

Parents can get behind the effort by calling their state legislator to support a ban on texting and cell phone use to keep our kids and everyone safer on the road.