Alan Webber: Texting and driving a serious mistake

September 25, 2018

If you are looking for usual wit in this commentary, go on to the next column. You won’t find any — there’s no humor to be found in today’s subject.

In fact, my mission today is to scare the hell out of you. So much so, readers might be motivated to lend thoughts or expertise to help our community, state and country.

Do you realize that just in the last 20 years or so, our children and/or grandchildren have become even more vulnerable to being killed or maimed than before that date?

Do you also understand that those same children and/or grandchildren are more disposed to actually become killers themselves, wreaking havoc on anyone unfortunate enough to be in their way?

I’m writing about texting and driving — an “innocent” scourge that has become every bit as lethal as drunk driving.

I say innocent as nobody ever got out of bed one morning and said he/she was going to kill somebody with texts. And I doubt there are many of you reading this column today that actually text while driving, if you text at all.

This is primarily a problem of younger folks — the invincible set. If you don’t believe that, the next time you’re stopped at a traffic light, look around and see what younger people, generally younger than 35, are doing.

If there is a slow car in front of you holding up traffic, chances are good it is someone texting.

This is nothing like knowingly getting inebriated and impaired, then getting behind a wheel, despite all the warnings and harsh penalties advertised everywhere, for doing so. This is much more innocent than that, but equally as deadly.

Do you realize there are nine deaths and 1,000 injured every day as a result of texting and driving? That’s 1.5 million accidents per year. Texting while driving causes five times more accidents than drunk driving.

Did you know the average time to read a text is five seconds? That’s five seconds with eyes and focus not on the road. In that time, a car traveling 55 mph can travel the length of a football field. Texting while driving triples the odds of a road departure and multiplies by seven the odds of running into something in your lane.

According to Virginia Tech University, you are six times more likely to get in an accident while texting as opposed to driving drunk.

I could go on with more stats until your eyes cross but know that teenagers are the worst at this practice … the very people who need to keep their eyes on the road most.

Obviously, none of us want to see our teen-aged child or grandchild maimed, or worse, killed — a loss from which a parent never fully returns. And equally as bad, imagine the angst of a teenager having to live life knowing they killed someone because they were texting. It would be a heavy burden to carry the rest of a person’s life.

Obviously, this is a critically serious problem, and will get worse before it gets better. I’m not one to advocate passing more laws to control people’s behavior every time there’s an issue. There are too many laws on the books now.

I realized a long time ago, you can’t legislate morality or common sense. If you don’t believe that, just take a look at those doing the legislating.

But, I would be for requiring technology companies or cell providers to put restrictions on the phones or service whereas texting and internet surfing do not work in a moving vehicle, even if one isn’t the driver. And hands-free calling should be all that is available in a moving vehicle. One touches the phone while moving, the phone turns off. This technology should not be that difficult and will save countless lives.

Being around trucks all my life, I am also very aware of all the statistics involving trucks and automobiles.

If your teen is texting and anywhere near an 80,000 pound truck, your teen in gambling his life. Folks, the car will come in second place every time, and rarely is there a second chance.

I was one of the worst phone abusers while driving. I’ve reformed — one of our kids rear-ended a guy, totaling the car. It was enough for me. Miraculously, nobody was hurt, but there before the grace of God…

It is imperative we, as a society, crack down on those people texting while driving — they are imperiling us all.

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