A recent Pew Research Center survey found that one-fourth of adolescents age 16 or 17 report having texted while driving, and nearly 50% of teenagers report having been in a car while the driver was texting. That's probably a conservative estimate.
I've done it too and I'm not a teenager. It's a bad, bad idea. You're not looking at the road. You could very easily hit someone. And if there's something that goes wrong with the car in front of you, or anything you need to stop for is in front of your car, you're going to hit it. Even if you have the rule - I only text at stoplights - if you're not finished by the time the light is over, chances are you are going to continue.
I found one study from Frank Drews, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, published in the journal Human Factors late in 2009. The science shows that reaction is time is slowed, lane changes occur without warning, and more collisions happen.
In my opinion, texting while driving is just as bad as driving drunk, on some levels. The difference? If you get behind the wheel of a car and your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is high and a policeman catches you, you will go to jail. If you cause an accident texting while driving - you throw down the phone and no one is the wiser.
In Maryland, where we live, they just passed a law that texting while driving is a misdemeanor. Lawmakers heard testimony including that of a Maryland couple whose 26-year-old daughter was killed by a tractor-trailer driver distracted by texting near Disney World in Florida, as they were about to meet to plan her wedding last year.
Maryland made it a misdemeanor with a fine of less than $1,000. Excuse me but what were they thinking? That's going to stop a teenager who has to respond to his girlfriend's text right away?
What we need is a Mothers Against Texting While Driving (MATWD) with a body of scientific research and surveys behind them, that says this is a really dangerous thing. If anyone is doing this type of research please contact me.
My neighbor came up with a solution for preventing her 19 year-old daughter from texting while driving, which she was doing all the time. The auto companies would hate it. She bought her a stick shift. We can do better.
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