We’ve all seen it or done it. You look down at your phone, rapidly punch a few keys, glance back up at the road, look down and type some more. Look up, look down. Look up, look down.
These days texting and driving is a common occurrence and a dangerous problem we must try to eliminate. According to a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who send text messages while driving are more than 23-times more likely to be in a crash than nondistracted drivers. Texting is a serious visual and cognitive distraction.
More recently, FindLaw.com released a survey stating two-thirds of 18- to 24-year-olds text while on the road.
With her No Phone Zone campaign, Oprah Winfrey is encouraging Americans to pledge to stop texting and use hands-free calling or to not use their phones at all while driving. I applaud Oprah’s diligence in backing an initiative to reduce the number of people texting on the road.
If you have trouble resisting the pull of that powerful, small electronic device vibrating in your cup holder, consider taking Oprah’s pledge. Gather some of your friends and make the commitment together so you can hold one another accountable.
For those who do not struggle with technological temptations while driving, there is no reason to sit back and relax. According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, cell phone distraction while driving causes 2,600 deaths in the U.S. each year.
You don’t want to be the victim of one of these crashes. Encourage others to stop texting in the car. If you want to go a step further, contact your congressman or woman about passing stricter cell phone usage laws in your state. In Texas, only school zones and a few cities currently prohibit electronic messaging or cell phone use while driving.
Most students know cell phones and driving can be a lethal combination, but many use them anyway. Just put your phone down. It can wait.
Sarah Ziomek is a sophomore environmental science major from Keller.