Is a Text Message Worth a Life?

I got my first cell phone at the age of 15. Soon after, I learned about the wonderful world of texting and let’s just say that my parents weren’t very happy with that discovery after the bill came in. I learned to control my texting habits as a teen but once unlimited texting became part of every plan, my interest for texting returned and now texting is a part of my daily life.

Texting has become part of our daily lives and what might have been an unintended consequence has come along with it, texting while driving. A distraction such as text messaging is a huge problem for road safety. Distracted drivers not only put themselves at risk, but they also risk the safety of others.

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It only takes seconds for a text to put you or someone else in danger. Five is the average number of seconds that drivers take their eyes off the road to send a text. Two is the average number of seconds that drivers can safely glance away from the road while driving a motor vehicle without putting themselves and others in danger.

Most people that admit to texting or using a mobile device while driving know that this is dangerous, but they do it regardless. Texting while driving is a big temptation for teens, in particular. A 2012 statistic revealed that 82% of Americans, ages 16-17, owned a cell phone, and 52% said they talked on a cell phone while driving. 34% said they had texted while driving, and 13% of drivers aged 18-20 involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.

Texting while driving is also a problem with the general driving population. A recent statisticshowed that 33% of U.S. drivers, ages 18 to 64, reported reading or writing text messages while driving in the previous month.

Many states have implemented laws and programs to combat this dangerous trend. 46 states and the District of Columbia have already banned text messaging for all drivers. In Missouri and Texas, novice drivers are banned from texting. In Nevada, various agencies and organizations have partnered up to reduce fatalities and serious crashes on Nevada’s roads through a campaign called Zero Fatalities. This campaign seeks to eliminate fatalities on our roadways by setting a goal of zero, the only acceptable number. So far this year, we’ve had 129 traffic fatalities in our state.

While you might think that taking your attention off the road for five seconds to send a text isn’t a big deal, the statistics don’t lie. Operating a motor vehicle requires your full attention for your safety and the safety of others. The only way we can reach zero fatalities on our roads is to take action against distracted driving, by starting with ourselves. Next time you get in your vehicle and reach for your phone, remember that a text isn’t worth a life.