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The Dangers of Texting While Driving

Posted in current events with tags , , , on February 1, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Lawmakers in Iowa are taking a look at new information about people who text while driving in an effort to create new laws in regards to banning it. Among those statistics is a report from the University of Iowa which used “event triggered recorders” in the vehicles of young drivers. The recorders are part of an initiative that gives feedback to drivers about their first year. (Click here for one of the videos from the report of a girl from Tiffin driving with her sister. The car she is driving is going 50 mph, and she is staring at her phone for over 6 seconds.)

This isn’t the first time that texting while driving has been considered a problem. MythBusters, a show on the Discovery Channel, has taken the “myth” that texting while driving is worse than drinking while driving, and has deemed it “plausible”. CBS News with Katie Couric also did a story on texting while driving, giving us the great tagline, “People on the road can turn an LOL into a great big OMG.” (And it sounds even better in Autotune.)

The problems brought up by the Des Moines Register are well-reasoned, but they didn’t really provide any answers, or even means to a solution. But from the looks of the problems they’ve brought up, it appears that their solution is one that lawmakers are trying to come to: stricter laws on drivers who text while driving.

I’ll admit, I frequently text while driving (not so much now since I got my BlackBerry, but with normal phones it was nearly constantly). I always thought I was being safe with my texting, since I texted slowly, one letter at a time, on T9, and wrote furiously or saved reading messages till I was at a stop sign or a stoplight. Many times it would infuriate me when I would hit several green lights in a row if I was trying to write an “important” text.

Then, this summer, my family had a real-life encounter with the dangers of texting while driving. Without going into too much detail (since I hardly know of any details), my sister was driving somewhere, texting as she went, when she rear-ended a van. She was going between 35-40 mph (the speed limit on the road she was taking), but she crashed hard enough into the van to trigger the airbags. To this day, the front end of the car is severely dented, the grill is pretty much gone, and the license plate is pointing in every direction. My sister walked away from it, shaken, but otherwise okay.

All of this happened in town, though. Think of what could have happened had this occurred on the highway, or on a country road. What if this had happened on the Interstate!? Things could have been drastically worse.

What lawmakers in Iowa are doing right now should be done by lawmakers in all states, and possibly the lawmakers in Washington, DC. The Des Moines Register quotes John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council, and it’s a quote that I agree with: “Generally people overestimate their capabilities as drivers…. When we’re texting, we really aren’t paying attention to driving, and we don’t know we’re weaving or missing stoplights.”

Texting while driving is a huge and dangerous distraction. If you absolutely have to answer the text, pull over and do it. Don’t risk my life, or the lives of countless others, because of your distracted stupidity.