Dangers of Texting and Driving - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/29/09

Dangers of Texting and Driving

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By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's a dangerous trend that's responsible for killing thousands of people each year. We're talking about texting and driving.

It only takes a split second to look down from the road to your cell phone, but that's long enough to change or even end a life, and the severity of the problem has local lawmakers wanting to make it illegal. "My friends text and drive and everybody is just going crazy, it's pretty dangerous," said one texter. 

It's wasn't hard to find people who do it. One too many close calls have stopped some. "I've noticed myself swerving so I quit," said another texter. 

We wanted to see just how dangerous it can be, so with the help of Sgt. Paul Nichols and the Lubbock Police Academy, I took my texting skills to the police obstacle course, and after three attempts at the course, I wasn't getting any better.

"Driving is 90% mental, so when you begin to divide your attention by the radio, answering your phone, or texting, that really cuts down on your reaction time to respond to different things on the road," said Nichols.

In fact, Sgt. Nichols says being distracted with text messages can be compared to driving under the influence. The difference? "Driving while intexticated" is not a crime in Lubbock.

"Everybody texts, everybody uses smart phones, not everybody but most people if they are in business use smart phones to read their emails, I do and I've been guilty of that myself and I have to think about how dangerous it is and have consciously tried to stop doing that," said Texas Senator Robert Duncan.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says nearly 6000 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers last year. In Lubbock alone, more than 120 car crashes in 2008 were caused by cell phone distractions. "I believe it would be in the best interest of the state to consider a policy that would ban that sort of distraction while driving an automobile," said Duncan.

In fact, some cities and even states have already banned texting and driving. Like in Austin, a city wide ban on texting behind the wheel takes effect in January, and although there is currently no state law against it, Texas Senator Robert Duncan says it is a state issue, and wants to see something done about it state wide.

"The legislature typically has had good common sense on these kinds of issues and I think it's a policy issue that we can and should debate and come up with a reasonable solution that will help prevent an accident as a result of this kind of distraction," said Duncan.

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