Texting While Driving
by Liz Coram
How many people text behind the wheel of their vehicle? Can we relate to the following story? Jaci Lemons* is driving down the street, headed to school. The 17 year old driver is texting another friend. As she looks down to read the incoming text, Jaci veers off to the right and crashes head-on into the back of a parked vehicle. She is taken to the hospital, but after brief examination by the attending ER doctor, Jaci is released. Thankfully, the only thing bruised is her pride, and her pocketbook. Missouri should make texting while driving illegal for all drivers, not just the drivers aged 21 and under. Missouri has passed a state law, on Aug. 28, 2009, that prohibits drivers 21 years of age or younger from sending or reading a text while driving. While that is a great start, it isn't enough. Drivers across the country have been seen in their vehicles doing all sorts of dangerous, weird, and downright strange things while driving. Watching a DVD movie (really), dressing, putting on makeup, eating, texting, etc; but texting is what is causing legislatures some concern here in Missouri. The problem is we spend so many hours behind the wheel that seemingly, we are driving on "auto pilot". (Have you ever driven a while and then could not remember any of it?)
"Young people will be forced to at least keep their fingers off their keyboards while they drive,"said Leanna Depue, director of Highway Safety or the Missouri Department of Transportation. "The law is a small step toward counteracting some of the distracted driving that causes crashes in Missouri." And, according to a recent study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is the leading cause of traffic crashes in Missouri, as well as across the country. 80% of crashes involve driver distraction; mainly that texting is the number one thing that distracts motorists' attention while driving. Half of all teen drivers say they text while driving....
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