Texting while driving makes roads dangerous

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, August 7, 2012

After six years of hard work, Rep. Jim McClendon finally saw one of his headliner bills — a statewide ban on texting while driving — passed by his compatriots in the Alabama Legislature.

That ban went into effect Aug. 1, and McClendon spent time on Aug. 2 extolling the virtues of the ban to those gathered at the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“The crash and fatality rate is the same as drunk driving, and the number one group affected by this are our young people,” he said.

Those are sobering words. We all know how dangerous drunk driving can be, and it’s amazing to think that the use of a cell phone can transform a sober, safe driver into a menace on the highways.

McClendon’s also correct to highlight the specific danger to young people. After all, the 16-year-old who just got his or her license is likely also the 16-year-old who always has his or her cell phone within arm’s reach. It can be tempting to just take a peek at the phone screen to see if a best friend has sent a text or if someone’s sent a Tweet or written on a Facebook wall.

Parents, please make sure you sit your teens down and impress upon them how dangerous it is to text while driving. Teens — as well as all drivers — need to understand that typing out a quick text likely means precious seconds of attention off the road and on the phone, which can lead to lives being irrevocably changed.

If you need another sobering example to share, use this one: AT&T Regional Director Terri Williams said the average text takes a driver about 5 seconds to send, which is roughly “the same as being blindfolded and driving at 55 miles per hour down a football field.”

Imagine the carnage anyone could cause driving a car blindfolded. Now imagine that’s you or your child driving, and switch looking down at a cell phone for the blindfold. That should be enough to scare anyone into putting the phone down.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.