Stay alive; don’t text and drive!


Most of us don’t wake up thinking, “Hey, maybe I’ll kill somebody today.” But that is exactly what may happen to the person who makes a habit of texting while driving. Last year in the United States, 1,000 vehicle accident fatalities involved a cell phone. Half a million more people were injured. That is three people a day and nearly one person injured every minute, night and day of every day, because we need to be plugged into our cell phones! Texting while driving includes reading and sending texts, tweeting, twittering, surfing the net, even punching in phone numbers.

Thirty-nine states have laws against texting while driving. What that has done is cause people to hold their cell phones down low in their laps, which increases the danger! People need to understand the dangers of texting while driving and stop doing it! At least drunk drivers have the excuse that their brains are impaired when they make the decision to drink and drive! We have no such excuse for texting! Hopefully it is a lack of understanding about the risks.

A test that compared braking distances among drivers showed that at 70 mph a drunk driver took 4 more feet to stop than an unimpaired driver. A driver reading a text message took 36 more feet to stop, and a texting driver needed an additional 70 feet to stop! Texting was far worse than driving drunk!

Reggie texted “yeah” as he drifted into the other lane and killed two men (fathers and husbands). Amanda texted “yeah” to Ashley, who lost control of the car while reading it and died. Another young man texted “LOL” just as he struck and killed a cyclist. Taylor texted, “I can’t discuss this matter now, texting and facebooking while driving is not safe. Ha ha,” just seconds before she slammed into a truck and died. Chance texted “I need to quit texting because I could die in a car accident and then how would you feel” just seconds before plunging off a cliff. He is fortunate to be alive, although his recovery is taking months, and in some ways he will never be the same.

The good news is that knowledge and enforcement do make a difference. In 2010 in New York City and Hartford Conn., they did a media campaign against texting while driving, and the police aggressively ticketed drivers caught texting. This cut the practice down by a third in NYC, and 72 percent in Hartford!

I am working on a college class project with two residents of Cortez to spread the word against texting and driving. When we passed out flyers against texting at Walmart last week, I met a man whose daughter was killed texting. This is happening here, and you could be next. We call upon all drivers to own up to our vulnerability, to not try to “cheat” death or the system, by trying to be sneaky while texting. Just stop texting!

It isn’t just a problem for teens, by the way. If you don’t want someone to kill your child, your mother or you, then don’t kill their son, their brother or them. Don’t text and drive. Don’t do it. Don’t drive with someone who does.

Stay Alive, Don’t Text and Drive!

Velinda W. Mitchell



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