Thursday, June 14, 2012
Don’t text and drive
Here’s are a few more notes from my most recent road trip, particularly about texting and driving.
First, I confess – I have done it. But I’m stopping. I’ve repeatedly told my 18-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter not to text and drive. I need to practice what I preach.
Last week, while going to Byhalia, I received a couple of text messages. Instead of responding immediately, I waited until I got to Byhalia and then pulled over into a parking lot for texting back.
Andy and I, as you read last week, embarked on a recent ride to Montgomery, Ala., and Mobile, Ala.
We swapped the driving duties. When he drove, I did a little texting from the passenger’s seat. When I drove, he did a lot of texting.
When he was about to get behind the wheel, he sent a text to his girlfriend (the one he texts the most), letting her know he was about to be driving and he would not be texting back for a while.
On the trip, we noticed several people texting while driving – some on the interstate. It scares me when I see interstate drivers just talking on their cell phones while driving, much less texting.
Driving needs our undivided attention. Just a brief look away from the road while driving can cause an accident. And that distraction can be caused by talking on the cell phone or texting.
Results of a government survey on texting and driving were released last week. More than 15,000 high school students across the country were questioned.
About 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month. About 43 percent of high school juniors acknowledged they did the same.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said texting and cell phone use behind the wheel is “a national epidemic.”
Distracted driving deaths are most common in teens, blamed for about 16 percent of teen motor vehicle accidents.
A typical teen, the survey said, sends and receives about 100 text messages a day, and it’s the most common way many kids communicate with their peers.
But this driving and texting alert should not be focused entirely on teens. I think it’s a problem where adults are concerned, too.
The survey unveiled some good news, too.
More teens are wearing seat belts. Only 8 percent said they rarely or never wear seatbelts, down from 26 percent in 1991.
Fewer teens said they drove drunk (8 percent vs. double that in the 1990s) or rode with a driver who had been drinking (24 percent, down from 40 percent).
Overall, teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes are down 44 percent in the last decade. About 3,100 teens died from traffic crashes in 2009, according to the most recent federal statistics.
One other traffic note from our recent trip. On the way home, Pam and I witnessed state troopers pursuing a very fast motorcycle. It zoomed by us and closely cut between two other vehicles on the four-lane highway. It hit a small dip and almost crashed. Later it left the road, intentionally, and went onto the bank. A four-wheel drive police vehicle followed. Then suddenly they were back on the highway and took to a side road. It was a dangerous pursuit, and I hope they caught him, without injuries.
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