Yesterday while I was brewing my coffee, I came across an interesting New York Times piece that highlighted the dangers of distracted driving. The piece focused on a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (“AAA”), which entailed putting video cameras in the vehicles of teenage drivers from the ages of 16 to 19. Unsurprisingly, the video showed teenager after the teenager take their eyes off the road to momentarily do things like, flip through songs on their iPhones, text a friend, send a tweet, take a selfie, etc. However, after just innocently taking their eyes off of the road to for just a few seconds, over 1700 of the pooled test subjects got into some sort of car accident from their momentary distractions. Furthermore, the most shocking aspect of the study was the statistics that revealed that distraction was the cause of roughly 60 percent of all moderate and severe crashes.
After reading the article and observing the video, I took a sip my coffee and thought to myself, “look at all of these immature kids putting all of us on the road in danger by texting while driving,” I proceeded to retweet the link to the New York Times post, and tweeted some variation of “Distracted driving is a problem for all of us on the road. Lets do better people.”
After finishing my coffee, I rushed out of the door like I typically do every morning, threw my messenger bag in the back seat of my car, cranked the ignition and headed towards the interstate. Within minuets of leaving the house, I found myself scrolling through my emails while driving. Then it hit me that I was a hypocrite! Not more than ten minuets ago I sat in my kitchen thinking how irresponsible the teenage drivers in the AAA study were, and here I was doing the same thing. I was just as guilty as the distracted teenage drivers in the AAA study.
I know that I am not the only one who has sent a text or checked their emails while driving. Like myself, many of us realize that texting and driving is extremely dangerous. However, we take a hypocritical stance behind this realization and continue to engage in such this reckless behavior. State legislatures and safety advocates across America have realized that simply taking your eyes off of the road for just a few seconds to send a text can have deadly consequences, and they have enacted statutes to deter this.
Last year South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a state wide texting and driving ban that makes it unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this State. For purposes of the law, “text-based communication” includes text messaging, instant messaging, and e-mailing.
It is against to law to send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways. Although our state, city and county police officers may not be able to catch everyone who texts behind the wheel, we should all take meaningful actions to police ourselves. It may not happen over night, but we can refrain from being distracted by our cell phones while we are behind the wheel. By texting and driving, we not only put ourselves in danger, we also endanger every man, woman and child on our roadways. Hopefully you will fell as guilty as I did the next time you take your eyes off of the road to glance at your cell phone to send a text or check your email while driving.
As a safety advocate I want to encourage all drivers to refrain from texting and driver. Lives depend on it. If you haven’t done so already, please watch the video below and feel free to share your thoughts about the dangers of distracted driving.