Should Texting and Driving Be Against the Law?

If you text while driving, do you remember what the last text you sent while driving said? Do you remember who you texted? What if one or both of you had died in an automobile accident? According to the American Automobile Association, nearly 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. About 6,000 deaths and a half a million injuries are caused by distracted drivers every year according to a 2013 article under a Texting While Driving Statistics report on the Edgar Snyder and Associates Law Firm Website. Try to imagine 1 out of every 2 teens that you see driving texting while they’re driving. Teens admit to composing, sending, reading text messages, and email, or making other similar actions while driving.

No National Ban on Texting and Driving

Although there is no national ban on texting and driving at this writing, 34 states have some form of distracted driving laws according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association website. Go ahead, admit it if you do it. You know it’s wrong but when your cell phone goes off you grab it even though you’re driving down a busy street or even worse a highway at 70 mph. So, should texting and driving be against the law?

Generations and Texting

The number of cell phone purchases grows every year which puts more phones in the hands of drivers. The life span of Americans is another factor to consider when it comes to texting and driving. Americans are living and driving longer than at any other time in out history. That puts more drivers with cell phones on our roads which increases the chances of car accidents. Fortunately, many senior citizens aren’t tech savvy enough to use text. Among the older generation of drivers that are capable of texting and driving, many are mature enough to avoid anything that would distract them from driving. Regardless, their presence on highways adds to the overall driving factors that make texting while driving so dangerous.

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Texting While Driving Under the Influence

CNBC Reporter Phil LeBeau, talked to the people at Car and Driver about texting and driving and based on some test they did, they came to the conclusion that texting and driving is worse than drinking and driving. They set up an experiment to test Car and Driver Editor Eddie Alterman’s “stopping” reaction when emailing and texting while driving at 70 mph. They came up with the following results.

  • Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake
  • Legally drunk: add 4 feet
  • Reading e-mail: add 36 feet
  • Sending a text: add 70 feet

When LeBeau took the same test for reading e-mail or texting and driving, his reactions were worse than Alterman’s. On average, it took him four times longer to hit the brake. Mike Austin at Car and Driver told him in blunt terms that he was ‘way worse’ than the average driver at texting and driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2008 that driver distraction was the cause of 16 percent of all fatal crashes — 5,800 people killed — and 21 percent of crashes resulting in an injury — 515,000 people wounded.

Department of Transportation Distracted Driving Statistics

Here are some distracted driving stats from the Department of Transportation website

  • 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).
  • Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (FARS and GES)
  • The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

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AT&T Ad Campaign ‘Texting and Driving – It Can Wait’

A March 8, 2010 USA Today feature tells how AT&T is working to get the message texting can wait across on its website and in focus groups. The companys ‘Textng & Driving … It Can Wait’ campaign features parents of young texting and driving victims and the final text messages the young drivers received just before they died using their cell phones. The campaign’s theme: ‘No text is worth dying over.’

About 6,000 deaths and a half a million injuries are caused by distracted drivers every year.

The Edgar Snyder and Associates Law Firm

According to Daryl Evans, AT&T’s vice president of consumer advertising, the theme for AT&T’s texting and driving campaign grew out of one of its focus groups. During one of these focus groups, ‘The group leader said, ‘Everybody pull out your phone. Pull up the very last text you had before you came in here.’ Then he would ask the question, ‘Are any of those texts worth dying for?’ The air would go out of the room. It went absolutely silent. And every time we did it after that, the same thing happened. We knew we had our aha! moment,’ he says.

Local Texting While Driving Laws

Although some states don’t have a distracted driving law, individual counties in some of those states have enacted their own texting and driving ordinances. Some of us are old enough to remember when the only phones we had were hard wired to a wall in our house and life was good. These days what would we do without our cell phones? Maybe we would live longer. What do you think, should texting and driving be against the law?

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If you text while driving, do you remember what the last text you sent while driving said? Do you remember who it was to? What if one or both of you had died in an automobile accident? Even worse, what if you had killed someone else because you were texting while driving? Was the text that important or could it have waited? Laws against texting and driving could save your life. What will your last text message say?

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