Texting can wait, Texas
By Jennifer Luna
When customary activities like driving and texting collide the two can be lethal, especially for young adults.
The Texas Department of Transportation, TXDOT, reported 90,378 crashes in 2012 involving distracted driving, totalling 18,468 serious injuries and 453 deaths.
Robbi Smith, traffic safety specialist for TXDOT, said the largest percentage of those crashes were at the hands of teenagers and young adults.
“The age group that had the largest amount of crashes were from 16 to 24 with 28,443 crashes according to TXDOT records,” she said. “The age group with the least amount of crashes for distracted driving was 35 to 44 years; they had 13,000 crashes.”
This problem occurs not only statewide, but nationwide. Studies show young adults are more likely to multitask when driving.
Forty-one states implemented laws against texting while driving: Texas has not passed such a law. However, major Texas cities such as El Paso, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio have banned texting while driving.
Gov. Rick Perry has said he doesn’t want to micromanage the act by passing another law that may not effectively decrease distracted driving. He believes people will curb the habit through education, rather than law enforcement.
In an effort to decrease distracted driving, campaigns like “It Can Wait,” target young adults to pledge not to text and drive.
Smith said in 2012, TXDOT reported over 20 percent of people admitted to reading or sending a text message while driving.
According to a study conducted by King’s College in Pennsylvania, “US research reveals that four out of five college student drivers have used their cell phones to send or receive text messages while driving despite the majority recognizing that the activity represents a risk.”
The Texting and Driving Safety website says drivers who admit to texting and driving say they do it safely.
Whether texting at a red light or holding the phone above the steering wheel, texting while driving is not worth the risk.
Instead, make the call or send the text before you drive, or wait until you reach your destination. In cases of emergency, park rather than risking a crash and putting others in danger.
Offenders are fined up to $200, or a person can face charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon if they seriously injure someone. If they kill someone, the driver can serve time with manslaughter charges.
In 2012, about 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes nationwide, becoming the newest epidemic.
Cities and states should stay consistent with one another to spread the message about the intolerance of a ruthless act.
According to a February 2012 report compiled by the Texas State House of Representatives, 23 cities in Texas implemented a ban, so Texas Legislature should do the same.
If Texas implements a state law banning texting and driving, law enforcement will follow to discourage the act.
The result would deter fatalities and life changing injuries caused by distracted driving.