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Texting and driving kills

By Eva Revear
On March 27, 2012

Ashley Davis-Jones, the best friend of one of our own Ledger reporters, was only twenty-two when she died in a texting while-driving accident in 2010. Though her mom and sister have devoted a great deal of time to talking to teens about the dangers of texting while driving, Ashley's death was one of thousands of distracted driving deaths that happened that year. 

Most of us have gone to driver's ed; we've seen the videos of mangled corpses laying on the side of the road, surrounded by emergency vehicles and firemen who are trying to cut their still trapped friends out of a crushed car. Yes, drinking and driving was the focus of many a driver's ed class a few years ago, but who knew that texting and driving would become an equally detrimental situation?

It seems as if common sense would tell us not to try to type something out on a small screen while driving, an act that removes not only our hands from the wheel, but also our eyes and concentration from the road. However, while drunk driving resulted in about 10,000 deaths last year, texting and driving resulted in almost 6,000; the numbers are easily comparable. The reason for this is that, 50% of teens have admitted to texting while driving, and if truth be told, even as adults, most of us have done it. Even if the crash doesn't result in a fatality, chances are you will total your car.

Of course, due to so many texting and driving fatalities many states, including Washington, have passed legislation to prevent distracted driving. In Washington it is illegal, not only to text while driving, but also to talk on a handheld phone. But no matter how attentive traffic patrol officers are to the situation, how much are these laws really helping? A study done in New York and Connecticut by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that across the board bans on using handheld phones while driving has cut back on the amount of people who text while driving, but not on the amount of crashes resulting from texting and driving.

So what really is the solution to the problem? The same study also showed that non-handheld phones greatly decrease the chance of an accident while texting or talking. Carmakers are currently working on ways to make synced built-in devices in cars safe, so that soon the risks of phone use while driving will be obsolete.

Of course if you cannot afford a car with such built-in safety precautions, your best bet is simply to stop texting while driving.

Nothing that is being communicated via text message could be important enough to risk your car, your life or the lives of the other innocent people that could be killed as a result.

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