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Thursday
Sep032009

The dangers of texting while driving

A shocking made for TV video from the UK and originally shown in Wales, is having some further impact world-wide by being shown on Youtube.

I saw a shortened version here in the US, on the evening TV news. However, the full length version showing the aftermath of the crash, I feel has a far greater affect.

I know some of you may have already seen this, and by showing it here I am only preaching to the choir. But hopefully from here the message will find its way to other sites viewed by those who need to see this. 

I wish this video could be shown in schools throughout the US. It is the young driver, their inexperience coupled with texting and cell phone use, who pose the biggest threat, both to themselves and other road users.

On the same subject here in the US, the State of Utah has brought in tough new laws to deal with the problem of people sending text messages while driving.

Under Utah’s law, someone caught texting and driving now faces up to three months in jail and up to a $750 fine, a misdemeanor. If they cause injury or death, the punishment can grow to a felony and up to a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison.

The new law which took effect in May 2009, penalizes a driver causing a crash while texting, as harshly as a drunk driver. State senator Lyle Hillyard, and supporter of the bill stated:

"It is a willful act, if you choose to drink and drive or if you choose to text and drive, you are assuming the same risk."

Kudos to the senator, and the state of Utah; it is always a good thing when a state enacts tough new laws like this, because eventually other states will follow.

In Utah it was a 19 year old male text messaging his girl friend while driving, and the resulting crash killing two men, that brought about this legislation. Sadly, it will probably be similar tragic events that will force other states to act.

Only when public attitude changes and people realize that all this multi-tasking people do while driving is a choice, and a poor choice at that, will these widespread practices start to carry the stigma that drinking and driving carries

 

Reader Comments (8)

Only when public attitude changes and people realize that all this multi-tasking people do while driving is a choice, and a poor choice at that, will these widespread practices start to carry the stigma that drinking and driving carries

Unfortunately attempts to legislate morality and responsibility are usual in vain. We have hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of laws on the books that could be boiled down to a few simple rules. Yes texting (and cellphone use IMHO) should be outlawed while operating a motor vehicle, but people will continue to do, just like they speed, drink and drive, tailgate, etc, etc. It takes PERSONAL responsibility to make the decision to concentrate on driving and driving only.

Aaron

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter2whls3spds

Texting while driving deserves more severe penalties than driving drunk. At least the drunk has the excuse of impairment (although unacceptable), but the sober texter has no excuse at all.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Dave,

We don't need more laws. We need more common sense.

Cell phone use or texting while driving constitutes unsafe driving in my book, and that is already legislated against in many cases. For instance, the state of Oregon makes it illegal for a motorist to pass a cyclist in an unsafe manner. Here is part of the description: "Passing a person operating a bicycle in a no passing zone in violation of ORS 811.420 constitutes prima facie evidence of commission of the offense described in this section, unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle, if the passing results in injury to or the death of the person operating the bicycle."

Do you think that makes me safer on the road? I think not. Do you think that keeps drivers from passing me in an unsafe manner? The answer is a resounding NO. Though I suppose it is good to know that Mother Government is there to protect me. Yes, it is somewhat comforting to know that the driver who kills me while attempting to make an unsafe pass may be charged with breaking a law. (Sarcasm)

If we are to outlaw texting and cell phone use while driving than we must also outlaw eating, reading, and applying make-up while at the wheel. I could go on with the list: ogling at pretty women, use of a CB radio, yelling at the kids in the backseat, removing a pullover sweatshtirt, etc., etc..

It is somewhat troubling to me to read in the cycling blogs I peruse each day that there are a great many in the biking community who lobby for government intervention either to promote cycling as a transportation alternative or to make cycling a "safer" activity. Cycling is an inherently independent activity. The cyclist is often alone on the roads or on the trails. He responsibly carries his tools and kit should he need to make a repair on the go. No one helps the cyclist turn the cranks or steer the bars. A cyclist entrusts to no one but himself the task of establishing and maintaining a perfect balance on his two-wheeled wonder. One would think that this independence might convey itself to the political and social arenas in which the cyclist travels, but sadly, it appears that this is not often the case.

By the way, I read recently that the Automobile Club of America is backing legislation that would make it illegal for a cyclist to drink from a water bottle while riding. The president of the club said, "This is the first step in making our roads safer for the motorists of America. Distracted riding is a danger for us all. And moving forward, we are now drafting legislation that would make it illegal for a rider to wear skin-tight lycra - talk about distractions. (Jest, perhaps prophetical?)

Now if you want to get the message of responsible driving out, preach it. Don't legislate it.

David

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

A most powerful video indeed. This should be mandatory viewing.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMax

I think those laws are good, it *is* a willful act and sadly people can't be relied upon to make the right decision without incentive. How much deterrent it actually is remains to be seen.

Some people's attitudes really need to change, they are completely unconcerned with the potential consequences of their actions or the safety of others. Check this texting while driving (and speeding) story out:

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/mp/5911084/speeding-l-plater-caught-sending-sms/

The mother should also have been fined, actually I'm surprised she wasn't.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlemmiwinks

Anyone that texts while driving a moving vehicle is, quite simply a selfish, thoughtless and irresponsible asshole.

Sadly, laws won't do a lot to change habits; it has to be a step-change in thinking and culture that does that.

If you can convince enough people of the first sentence above, they'll help keep the roads safer by preaching to those that don't, much as Dave said above.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEyebee

Multitasking while driving is nothing new. Maps, newspapers, business reports, Dictaphones (remember those), makeup, animated conversations, heated arguements, mobile karaoke, loud car stereos, mobile dvd players, you get the picture. Many on this list have been legislated in one form or another and seldom enforced. The current hot topic is mobile communications devices in school zones. I couldn't agree more that this thread is a serious issue that is completely avoidable with a dose of common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is something one is born with and cannot be acquired along the way. Perhaps upbringing plays a role in nurturing the quality but it doesn't replace the fact whether or not one posesses any.

One final note on legislating these actions concerns the loophole written into most statutes that exempts government employees - primarily emergency workers. I cannot tell you how many time I have witnessed a policeman driving erratically because he was so focused on the compouter screen mounted near the dashboard. Multitasking at its worst and endorsed by big brother!

September 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Two points:

1) Excellent video. Having been in a head-on collision 30 years ago (as the object, not the subject), I can attest to its accuracy. Smashed car, impact crater on the windshield, blood running down your face, all of it, I've been there. Most people expect flames, explosions, pools of blood, and that's all rubbish. It's just really, really quiet except for the passing cars and the talking of the emergency workers.
2) Laws to prevent texting -- I'm for them. You can go off about "mother government" but in the end relying on people to exercise self-discipline without legal reinforcements doesn't work for bollocks. They should, but they don't. You either take steps to discourage the behavior, or you live with the results. Yes, there are idiots who will do the wrong thing even if its against the law, but I think pretty reasonably that there will be fewer such idiots doing it if they know it's against the law.

You can wait for people to grow a brain and stop being idiots, but history pretty much indicates it's not all that likely to happen anytime soon. Are there stupid laws? Sure. It's an effect of having stupid people. Does that mean there should be no laws? No, because not all laws, just like not all people, are stupid. I think that isn't too hard to figure out. The trouble is weeding out the stupid laws from the good ones. Again, you can draw an analogy with people on this.

As to common sense being something one is born with or not, it implies people don't learn from mistakes. I disagree. Some (most I would hope) people learn from their mistakes. Anyone who makes it out of there twenties has, I hope, learned a few things along the way, since the ones that don't generally don't live quite so long. Of course, traffic laws probably have enabled a few more idiots to make it to 40, but my hope is that it's made a few more non-idiots make it to 40 by allowing them not to be "tragic victms".

Sorry, this pushed a button. As I said, I lived that video.

h.

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHal
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