DWT to DOA: How to Stop Driving While Texting
Has any human invention simultaneously brought such joy and such sorrow, such utility and such danger, as the cell phone? Well, the gun, obviously. And Britney Spears. But as this blog has been concerning itself lately with the annoyance of the ubiquitous cell phone, that's the one I'm addressing today.
Study after study has shown that talking on a cell phone while driving increases the likelihood that you will have an accident. Text on a cell phone and you may as well be driving with your eyes closed. The grown-ups among us may have a hard time believing that anyone would be so foolish as to send a text while driving but the younger generation knows what I'm talking about. This story by my colleague Ashley Halsey shows how some people text as if their life (and by that I mean "death") depended on it.
What's to be done? As Ashley's story explains, it's hard to get anti-texting or -talking laws passed. The New York Times has been running a sobering series of articles on the subject of distracted driving.
I wish the police would ticket more (any?) people who are talking (non-hands-free; not that that makes any difference) or texting on their cell phones. But we need to educate ourselves. And parents need to educate their children: Talking on the phone while driving is a bad idea. Texting is a really bad idea.
Perhaps that discussion could include showing your kid this short film created by a police department in Wales. A note warns of the film's graphic content. It reminds me of some of the films they used to show in driver's ed. But it's also believable. With both of my teenage daughters learning to drive now--taking the wheel on trips with us to build up their hours--I'm reminded of how quickly things can go wrong. A moment's inattention can be catastrophic.
The British like these grim public service announcements. When we lived in England we were surprised by the graphic PSAs shown before movies urging viewers not to talk on the "mobile" while driving or drunkenly climb construction scaffolding. Do they work? Well, I don't think they can hurt.
So: If you've the stomach for it, watch that Welsh PSA. And, please, don't text and drive. I'm not so much concerned about you killing yourself. It's the risk that you might kill me or someone I love that I'm worried about.
August 20, 2009; 9:24 AM ET
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