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Jeffrey Meldon
Jeffrey Meldon
Contributor •

Text Messaging: Armed and Dangerous

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Imagine driving down the road. In your car, you not only have yourself, but your young child, your spouse, or your friend. You know you’re a safe driver and you take all the precautions. But, you’re also trusting everyone else on the road to do the same. You expect them to return the favor. When you have your hands religiously at 10 and 2, you want the driver behind you, in front of you, and on either side of you to do the same thing. What if they’re texting? Diligently composing a message of genius to their friend and laughing at the new inside joke they just created? Their hands aren’t even on the wheel, let alone at 10 and 2. And their eyes? On their phone.

Texting while driving is the ultimate multitask. We have to think about what we’re going to write, the best way to say it, and the best way to abbreviate it so that it fits into the character limit on our cell phones. And using both hands to gingerly type out our thoughtful messages means only one thing: there are no hands on the wheel and our eyes and focus are not on the road.

Texting while driving has become a hot topic with both drivers and legislatures around the country. Distracted drivers lead to accidents and texting heightens distraction to a new level. Two years ago, texting was relatively obsolete. And although cell phone usage while driving has been an issue for quite some time, the texting distraction is relatively new. However, its newness does not lessen its severity.

This month, the legislature in Florida is focusing their efforts on a bill, headed up by Republican Doug Holder of Sarasota that would ban the use of text messaging while driving, which has been cited as an increased and dangerous risk to public safety on the road. As an accident attorney based in Gainesville, Florida, I applaud the Florida Legislature and Mr. Holder for their efforts towards increased public safety for all on or near the roads in Florida.

The bill will not be the first of its kind. A similar bill recently passed in the Alabama House, supported by Republican Jim McClendon, and joins seven other states, including the District of Columbia, that have bans on text messaging while driving. The numerous bills around the nation indicate a trend toward heightened awareness of the dangers surrounding texting while driving.

Statistics show that general cell phone usage, which includes texting messaging while behind the wheel, accounts for 636,000 car accidents per year nationwide, and even amounts to about 2,600 deaths. An accident in Canandaigua, New York, which led to the deaths of five high school teens, is thought to be the result of the driver texting while driving. The ban on text messaging would be an effort by legislatures to reduce these tragedies.

The National Safety Commission, which houses a variety of safety issues, including discussions on the dangers of texting. The message is clear: don’t text and drive!

As smart drivers, we wouldn’t dream of drinking and driving and should similarly avoid other distractions that take our focus, our hands, and our minds away from the road and the safety of ourselves and others.

For more information on this important topic:

Driving and Texting; A Combination Deadlier Than Drinking and Driving, Hopefully, Will Become Illegal Soon In Florida.

http://www.nationalsafetycommission.com/alerts/2009/02/new-florida-bill-aims-to-ban-texting.php

For information on Preventing an Auto Accident.