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Just how dangerous is texting while driving?

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The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a short video aimed at teens who text and drive, but adults are guilty as well, say local law enforcement officers.

A study by Distraction.gov reveals approximately 421,000 people were injured in automobile crashes that involved a distracted driver in 2012; this is a 9% increase over 2011. Distractions can be visual (looking for a street sign), manual (holding food with one hand, steering with the other), or/and cognitive (daydreaming). Because texting involves all of these distractions, it risks the chance for a crash and fatality.

Who is texting and driving?

At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Drivers in their 20s make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. And 25% of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20% of teens and 10% of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

Why use such scary tactics?

Using shock value as a way to send a message works, experts claim. The advertising medium has been used for encouraging safe driving, such as this one from New Zealand. The program "Every 15 Minutes" focuses on teen drinking, texting, etc. while driving, a training designed to "dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol and texting while driving. (It) will challenge students to think about ... texting while driving, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved." The program is quite graphic, with mock-ups of car crashes, "dead" bodies, and fake tombstones on the school lawn.

Answering a text takes away a driver's attention for about five seconds. At only 55 mph, that is enough time to drive the length of a football field.

The human mind is not created to multi-task and keep the attention span necessary for safe driving, sending, and receiving messages you type out.

Law enforcement officials reveal texting and driving is as dangerous as being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol while driving.

Driving while texting is the number one reported cause of accidents on Tennessee highways at this writing.

In the time it took for you to read this article, at least one teen has died in a car crash involving texting or drinking alcohol while driving. This is one teen too many. This is someone's child, sibling, family member, best friend, coworker, classmate. All of that is gone in the time it takes to text SRRY 4 u.

Please don't text or drink while driving - see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration new video HERE

My website HERE

Photo of J. Yates HERE

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