The Dangers of Being a Textaholic

The Dangers of Being a Textaholic

Savana Freyman

Nearly nine in ten teenage drivers have engaged in distracted-driving behaviors such as texting or talking on a cellphone, despite the fact that most of them know that their actions increase their risk of crashing, a new survey by Seventeen magazines and auto club AAA finds.
Teens gave researchers startling reasons for why they engage in distracted driving: It takes only a split second (41%); they don’t think they’ll get hurt (35%); it makes driving less boring (22%); and they’re used to being connected to people all the time (21%).
Teens driving their own vehicles are more prone to distracted driving than those who share an automobile with others. For instance, 20% of teens who share vehicles had texted while driving, compared with 35% of teens with their own cars. Drivers ages 18-19 are more likely to engage in distracted driving than those 16-17.
A few of the acts that fall under the category of distracted driving are using a cell phone, reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle, looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle, reading, eating, or even applying makeup.
Driver distractions are the leading cause of most vehicle crashes and near-crashes. According to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction. Often the distraction occurred within three seconds before the vehicle crashed.
Making destination entries on an in-vehicle navigation system, changing radio stations, or adjusting ones vehicle’s climate controls are distracting activities that can put one in danger of a car crash or near-crash.
Some drivers have taken the proper precautions to protect themselves and others from the dangers that result from using a cell phone while driving.
“I turn my phone on silent so I won’t hear it go off and I keep it in my bag.” Rachel Goldenburg, junior, said.
One way to avoid these distractions are to adjust the vehicle’s controls (climate controls, mirrors, radio, seat, etc.) before beginning to drive. Checking one messages on the cell phone prior to driving, and when possible ask a passenger to adjust the radio, climate control, navigation system, etc, to avoid a crash.
Laws banning the use of cell phones are on a rise in the US, handheld cell phone use is banned in 10 states D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 36 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 19 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
Bans on text messaging while driving in Florida are nearing final votes in the Senate and House. Both measures have cleared the necessary legislative committees, with the latest vote on April 8.
Punishments include fines, which grow with repeat offenses, along with points against the driver’s license in states which use point systems. Under some state laws, serious repeat offenders may even face jail time.

Drivers need to always focus on driving. It’s crucial to remain alert while on the road to arrive at the destination safely.