Thirteen (13) states plus the District of Columbia have now banned text messaging while driving. The Arizona senate rejected a bill to prohibit text messaging statewide while driving earlier this year. Phoenix was the first city to ever do so back on September 24, 2007, but the rest of Arizona cities have failed to follow suit. Unfortunately, one Phoenix police officer has come out and stated that Phoenix’s current text messaging ban is “unenforceable” due to the way it is written. Apparently, police officers are not able to demand that a driver relinquish their cell phone even though the officer may have seen them texting prior to an accident. Because of this, it is very hard to prove a person was text messaging.
Due to the fact that text messaging is a much newer technology than seatbelts or helmets, I can understand that we have to play catch up in the regulations area. However, I would like to believe that we Arizonans have some common sense—at least the amount it takes to see a major danger without it actually blinking in neon lights. But, for those of you who need “blinking neon lights”, please watch the video. It will be difficult for some to watch, however, hopefully, some just may get the jolt they need to truly understand the danger in this simple act.
I dare people to watch this video and then tell me that text messaging while driving is not dangerous. I read one statistic that stated that each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year. Recently, an Amtrak train crashed in California, killing 25 people and injuring another 135, 40 of whom were in critical condition. Evidence found afterward showed that the train operator had sent a text message less than a minute before the crash. He failed to see a signal that would have cautioned him to slow the train.
A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute studied the behavior of truck drivers, and covered more than 6 million miles of road. As part of the study, the researchers installed cameras inside the driver’s vehicles, and evaluated a number of points, including the movement of the driver’s eyes as they performed various activities, like talking on the cell phone, reaching for an object and text messaging. The results show that the greatest danger came from the tasks that took people’s eyes off the road for the longest period of time.
Text messaging has the highest distraction rates of the four tasks compared to non-distracted driving. The risk of a crash or a near crash is 23.2 times as high as with a driver who is not distracted. The data from the study shows that drivers who were text messaging had their attention taken away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That might not seem like much, but according to the study, 4.6 seconds is enough time to drive a vehicle the length of a football field at 55 mph.
In the case of a truck driver reaching for a cell phone, the risk of an accident was 6.7 times as high as for a non-distracted driver. In the case of a truck driver carrying on a cell phone conversation while driving, the risk of an accident or near accident was 1.3 times as high as for a non-distracted driver. In the case of a truck driver dialing a cell phone, the risk of a crash or near crash was 5.9 times as high as for a non-distracted driver.
I have to admit I myself have texted while driving, but after watching the above video; I am going to try to NEVER text again while I am driving. In fact, I have given my wife express permission to take my phone away from me if she sees me even thinking about such.
The seatbelt was invented in the 1880’s and the first patent for a motorcycle helmet appeared in 1953. The first seatbelt laws did not begin to appear until the mid to late 1980’s and mandatory helmet laws began to appear in 1966. Most states have gone back and forth over the last 34 years, repealing and reinstating and repealing these laws.
In comparison, text messaging was invented in the late 1980’s. How long do you think is it going to take us to enact statewide bans on text messaging in every state?
Regardless of whether or not we need a text messaging ban or if ours is enforceable, I am certain most of us have enough common sense, especially after seeing videos like the one above: http://www.engadget.com/tag/textingwhiledriving/ to try to never do it again.
Please watch the video. Please reset your priorities to make it a priority not to do so while we are driving. If you still continue to text after doing so, God help you (as well as the rest of us) when you are on the road.
**If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email Chris Zachar directly at Czachar@zacharlaw.com, or visit our website at http://www.ZacharLawFirm.com .