“Do I need to hold that for you?” I asked as I rode down the street with my teen daughter driving.The incoming texts were almost constant, each tempting a glance to ID the sender. At one point there were 4 in the space of 1 city block. At the stoplight she could hardly contain the urge to check them, and if I had not been with her, she might have.
OK, I admit it. I do it too. I preach about the danger of distracted driving, and I have even written about it. I made a career of helping people extract themselves from the aftermath of the carnage on the highways. I have taught my children to drive with their phones in their purse (but now with the phone doubling as a GPS, that doesn’t happen). I see the articles and I read the statistics, and yet I do it too.
I don’t send texts from the driver’s seat without pulling over. I only check to identify the sender at a light. And let’s be honest. I’m a fogey–I don’t get many. But I deserve a ticket, too. And if I cause an accident because I’m looking down, I will never forget it. It is people like me who know better and do it anyway that the law and the “No Texting” campaign is directed to.
The danger of distracted driving is in the news again. And, ironically, it is just as the North Carolina “No Texting Just Driving” Campaign is getting underway. The campaign is trying to keep people, especially teens, aware of the danger of texting while driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. In addition, younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years of age have the highest portion of distracted-related fatal collisions. Sadly, in 2011, 120 North Carolina teenagers were killed in traffic-related collisions investigated by the Highway Patrol.
The Highway Patrol has designated June as the official “No Texting Just Driving” educational awareness month but enforcement and education emphasis will continue indefinitely.
Motorists may report dangerous driving to the Highway Patrol by dialing *Hp (*47) on their cellular phones from anywhere in the state. For more information or requests for a digital copy of the campaign poster on No Texting, Just Driving campaign, please contact First Sergeant Jeff Gordon, Public Information Officer at (919) 733-5027 or Jeff.Gordon@ncdps.gov.
A texting teenager was just convicted of Motor Vehicle Homicide under the Massachusetts law, the first to my knowledge in the US. His car swerved across the center line and crashed head-on into a pick-up coming the other way, killing a father of 3. The teen has yet to be sentenced but faces up to 3 years in prison.
He stated he was concerned about the amount of homework he had to do that night. His phone records showed he had sent or received 193 texts that day, including 2 in the minute before the crash.
Over time, seatbelt use has increased. Drinking and driving has become completely socially unacceptable. Texting behind the wheel needs to suffer the same fate. I am improving. Please, for your children, and yourself, do the same.