Driving While Texting Video Raises Needed Debate

dwt1If you are not familiar with the text message shortcut DWT (Driving While Texting), a new public service announcement may just make it part of your vocabulary.

The video Texting While Driving was created by a small police department in Wales has created a stir due to the graphic violence portrayed in some scenes. Posted on YouTube, and other sites, the video has apparently been viewed more than a million times worldwide.

While some consider the 4-minute video too graphic, others applaud the stark reality check it gives teens.  It will be interesting to see if it has any real or lasting effect on the attitudes and actions of drivers. Let’s hope so.

Drivers who text behind the wheel have a 23 x greater risk of crashing, according to an as yet unpublished report by The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The institute looked a variety of driver scenarios and found that drivers who take their eyes off the road for any of a variety of activities, such as answering a phone call, were more likely to get into a crash or near crash. But by far, the most dangerous—and potentially lethal—activity was text-messaging.

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Compounding the concerns about driving and texting risks is the frequency in which it occurs. A survey by Vlingo found that 26% of the 5,000 US users surveyed text while they drive. Unsurprisingly, the survey found that a larger percentage of young inexperienced drivers are texting away while behind the wheel. They found that 60% of those ages 16-19 and 49% of those 20-29 admit to texting while driving. The percentages get smaller for older respondents, but usage remains high with 13% of those in their 50s admitting to doing so.

Another study, conducted by The Allstate Foundation and National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), found that 83% of teens admit that texting while driving is dangerous, in spite of this, 80% of girls and 58% of boys do so anyway.

“Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death and injuries for teens in the United States. Unfortunately, many young drivers know distracted driving is dangerous, but choose to take those risks when behind the wheel,” said Sandy Spavone, executive director of NOYS.

Seventeen states currently have laws that ban texting while driving, and this may soon become a nationwide requirement.  Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y and Robert Menendez of D-NJ, Mary Landrieu of D-LA and Kay Hagan D-NC unveiled legislation at the end of July proposing to cut funds for highways in states that fail to ban texting while driving.

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AAA Colorado publishes the following Tips to Prevent Text Messaging while Driving

Tips for Teens

  • Don’t be tempted: turn off your cell phone. Let voicemail capture your voice and text messages.
  • If you have to call or text while driving, pull off the road safely and stop.
  • Recognize that text messaging can be a habit. Get support from your friends by letting them know you are working on breaking the texting habit.
  • If you think you will still be tempted to text and drive, put your phone somewhere you can’t reach it, like the trunk.
  • Take control of your cell phone, don’t let it control you. You are the only one who decides when and if you send and read a text message.

Tips for Parents

  • Don’t call/text your teen at times when you know they are likely to be driving
  • Review your teen’s cell phone bill with them to see if they are texting at times they are likely to be driving. Share this information with your teen.
  • Establish family rules that prohibit texting while driving.
  • Set a good example, don’t text and drive.

It is time to talk about DWT with those you love.

Additional resources:

Linda

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