27 April 2010
How To Save A Life
At age 16, Brittany Johnson was a typical teenage girl; she had a loving family, a high school boyfriend, and her own car. However, Brittany will never get married, never have children, and never have her own house. Why? Brittany died September 7, 2009. The culprit — texting while driving.
While captaining her Chevrolet Lumina, Brittany decided to text her mother, distracting her from the road ahead. Instead of hitting the send button, Brittany’s life hit the end button, as she drove off an embankment, went airborne, and smashed into a utility pole (Friedman, pars. 2-4). Stories like Brittany’s raise questions over whether or not texting while driving should be banned. Nowadays it is growing exceedingly common to see drivers using the texting application while maneuvering their vehicle. To end the use of text messaging while operating a vehicle, legislatures need to create stern laws banning the use of the texting while driving, preventing tragedies such as Brittany Johnson’s from occurring on a daily basis.
Due to the teenagers’ obsessions with the new applications cell phones now offer, text messaging, they are more likely to be involved in a car accident where they find themselves distracted by either a received or sent text. In a report published by Matt Sundeen, a transportation expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures, he writes, “66% of drivers ages 18 through 24 use wireless devices to send or receive texts messages while driving” (20). To put it into perspective, University of Central Florida harbors over 53,000 students across its campus. Assuming all of its students carry a license, that would mean that over 34,000 students text while driving, putting them at an immense risk of driving haphazardly. Taking that into account, according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group” (“Teen Drivers” par. 1). By accompanying this staggering statistic with the previous statement, the result is a palpable equation for complete disaster and tragedy. To combat this frightening correlation, laws need to be developed to significantly alter the attitudes of distracted teenage drivers across the nation.
It would be an understatement to say texting while driving is a distraction; some compare the inappropriate use of cell phones to driving while drunk, which we all know it not only illegal, but horrific. In an experiment conducted by Michael Austin, a writer for Car and Driver magazine, he examines whether people are more aware in their vehicle when they are typing a text message, receiving a text message, or driving under the influence. Astonishingly, the results illustrated that driving while typing a text message are much more risky than driving under the influence (Austin, pars. 1-3). Therefore, if driving while drunk is illegal, then texting while driving should also be prohibited and equally punishable by law. If people hold a negative view toward drunk driving, then why don’t they have the same mindset when it comes to texting and driving? Well, actually most do; they just do not have a legitimate reason to stop texting because it is not against the law. Therefore, a law would confirm peoples’ beliefs that texting behind the wheel is not an acceptable behavior.
Additionally, automobile accidents caused by texting are putting an unnecessary economic burden on the public. In many car crashes where texting is present, drivers veer off the road and into others’ properties, causing extreme damage. According to research conducted by Matt Sundeen, he concludes that distraction related crashes, including texting while driving, trigger as much as $184 million of property damage every year (21). So, not only are drivers putting themselves at risk, but their neighbors should be aware as...