Stop texting and driving, make roads safer

You’re driving down the road, on your way to class, when your cell phone goes off. You take a quick glance to find it’s a text message. It’s just a friend letting you know where you’ll be meeting at the movies tonight. Knowing you’re going to be in class for most of the day, you reach over and try to text him back before you pull up to the student parking lot.

Suddenly, you hear a loud car horn. Then you notice your car is traveling in the wrong lane and you quickly move to miss the other car by only a few feet. Feeling relieved and a little embarrassed, you begin to wish you had parked your car before you picked up the phone.

Michigan may soon join the half of the nation that has outlawed texting while driving. With more mobile devices now able to send and receive text messages, it has made people who use these devices while operating a car or vehicle more likely to get involved in an accident.

Surveys done in 2008 say about 50 percent of all teenagers who drive have admitted to sending a text while behind the wheel. About 20 percent of adults have admitted that they text while they drive.

Now some may argue they are competent when it comes to multitasking behind the wheel, or the last thing they want is another reason for the police to pull them over. But would you want to be at risk for someone else’s decision behind the wheel of another car, a truck, or even a train?

In September of 2008, a California commuter train crash that killed 25 people happened when the driver was texting behind the throttle and failed to stop at a red signal. A driver who was texting his girlfriend was found responsible for a Boston trolley accident that injured 62 in May of last year. Truck drivers who text are almost 24 times more likely to get into an accident when texting.

Currently, Michigan is in the process of banning texting while driving. The state Legislature is debating exactly how an offense would be carried out, as the federal government is now seeking a nationwide ban on texting while driving. If a nationwide ban goes into law, any state that would not support the bill would get penalized with a 25 percent reduction in federal funding.

It seems highly unlikely that any state would oppose enacting a nationwide ban. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Nationwide Insurance, about 50 percent of the general population support a ban of cell phone use while driving. This may grow as driving schools, insurance agencies and law enforcement continue to educate the public on the dangers of texting and driving. Above all, common sense should always be used when anyone is traveling on the road.

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