Press-Republican

December 27, 2012

Editorial: Texting danger must be curbed

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Press-Republican

---- — A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that people who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. But every day, in your community, people text while driving.

Texting has become one of the major forms of communication for younger people, and its use will only grow over the years.

Even though it is illegal in New York state, people can’t seem to hold back from sending out messages while driving or peeking when they hear the beep signaling an incoming text.

You see people all the time, in traffic that has halted for a red light or other reason, with their heads bent as they obviously check cell phones held near their laps. If they don’t think other drivers — including police — can see what they are doing, they are mistaken. And police agencies are able to confirm the time that messages were sent out, so they can prove that people were dealing with texts while behind the wheel.

The Traffic Safety Coalition, a national nonprofit organization working to improve road safety, has just launched a campaign against texting while driving, and we hope it finds a way to get its message to sink in.

The coalition co-chair, Paul Oberhauser, has a very personal reason to advocate for driving safety. His daughter Sarah was killed in 2002 when a speeding driver ran a red light and crashed into her car. He doesn’t want to see anyone else go through what his family has, and he knows that more than 100,000 crashes a year involve drivers who are texting.

“Drivers need to realize a text can wait,” he said in a release from the Traffic Safety Coalition.

Another personal testimony in the release came from Jacy Good, a crash survivor who lost her parents to a distracted driver the night she graduated from college. “No text message, no phone call, no tweet is worth a life,” she said. “Reading or responding to a message can wait. Do not put your own life or the lives of others in danger.”

The coalition, in cooperation with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, is urging people of all ages to:

▶ Take a pledge to never text and drive by visiting www.trafficsafetycoalition.com or www.itcanwait.org.

▶ Download AT&T’s DriveMode app. When it is enabled and the vehicle is moving 25 mph, the app automatically sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts, letting people know you’re driving and will reply when you can.

▶ Watch the AT&T Don’t Text While Driving documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_

embedded&v=

DebhWD6ljZs) and share it on social media.

If you have children of driving age, it is crucial that you stress to them that the danger caused by this common practice is very real.

Share this editorial and this driving advice: No texting, no exceptions.