Its not exaggerating to say that texting while driving could become as distracting and dangerous as driving while impaired. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, who is leading the effort to eliminate cell phone use and driving, texting while driving is a dangerous epidemic, one which killed over 3,000 drivers in 2010.
New efforts by the U.S. Department of Transportation to stop texting and driving have included a ban for texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraging states to adopt tough laws, and launching several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue.
Teens texting and driving less than adults
Who is really doing all the texting and driving? If you are envisioning a group of crazy teens staring at their smart phones as they speed down the roadway, according to CNN, if you are over the age of eighteen you may need to look in the mirror. CNN reports adults are more likely to text and drive than teenagers.
In a survey conducted by AT&T, Almosthalf of adults admitted to texting while driving, compared to a slightly smaller number of teens. Unless the adults are simply more honest, this means that 49% of adults say they've sent a text while behind the wheel, compared to 43% of teens.
Will more education eliminate texting and driving?
As with most dangerous or unhealthy activities, we all know its wrong. In fact, 98% of survey respondents agreed that driving and texting was dangerous, but they do it anyway.
Phone companies are taking the lead to discourage the dangerous trend with a series of campaigns. AT&T's It Can Wait campaign, for instance, shows the devastating effect of texting and driving.
AT&T is also working with other groups such as employers, nonprofits, law enforcement, educators, legislators, professional associations and government agencies nationwide to provide information to the public about the dangers of texting and driving.
Problem is getting worse
Unfortunately, studies show the problem is getting worse despite the promotional efforts to discourage the behavior. Others admit they regularly text while driving.
Efforts to discourage negative behaviors have had some success in recent years. Consider smoking which has been highly discouraged legally, financially and legislatively. Fighting obesity has also been spotlighted in recent years with efforts made to list calorie counts on menus and limit the serving sizes of beverages. While all of these efforts have had varying degrees of success, I thing we can all agree a certain amount of national shame can modify behavior.
America has always been about freedom, which includes the freedom to hurt yourself. But according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who text are 23 more times as likely to get into an accident as other drivers. What this means is texting and driving doesn't just hurt you, like drunk driving, it endangers all of us, and even in America your freedom and right to text stops at the point you threaten my life.
So mom and dad when you lecture your kids about safe driving make sure you are setting a good example. Put the cell phone down and watch the road.