“The Dangers of Texting While Driving”: How is driving affected when using a cell phone to text?
While technology is steadily pushing forward, our laws and legal system are still playing catch up in regards to regulations and safety. Gwinnett is seeing its first vehicular homicide charge for texting while driving. Gwinnett police are using texting as the basis for the charge against a woman who got distracted and killed a male pedestrian with her SUV. Even though the woman had a green light and the pedestrian had a red walk signal, police feel the outcome could have been different. The woman was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, reckless driving, failure to exercise due care, and engaging in actions which distract from safe operation of a motor vehicle. The arrest warrant alleges she caused the pedestrian’s death by text messaging and not giving proper attention to the roadway. This arrest comes in time when state lawmakers have two bills up to ban texting while driving. Also a teenager got hurt by running into a telephone pole while texting. He was charged with improper use of a cell phone while driving and failure to maintain his lane.
A study done on healthy adults revealed that driving has become mechanic and requires little cognitive effort. When new situations arise, those mechanisms are thrown off which risk driving behaviors. Those who have to divide the tasking of their brain from a single task (driving) to a dual task (driving and texting) diminish the capacity of their brain to do the most important which is focusing on the road. Another study investigated the effects of cell phone use while driving on young novice drivers. They are particularly susceptible to distraction-related crashes and some of these distractions are noted as being in-vehicle devices that, particularly those that require manual input, are known to cause decreased driving performance. It also concludes that more effective safety measures are needed to mitigate the bad effects on driving such as texting while driving. Lastly, studies have shown that talking on the phone slows the person’s reaction time so that they would have the same inhibition as a person with a blood alcohol level of .08.
Even in other places around the world, this issue is being addressed. In a British legal journal, a twenty year old woman was convicted of death by dangerous driving. She was driving along the roadway and collided with another car which had a flat tire. The sentencing judge did not allow her to excuse her behavior because she was using her phone. He stated that driving demands 100% of the driver’s concentration. Last September, senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement reps, and academics went to Washington D.C. to address the dangers of texting while driving. They felt that laws were not enough to ban drivers from texting because they learned from previous safety campaigns that a coordinated strategy between law and education must take place in order to successfully make people aware of the dangers of texting and driving and also to decrease the prevalence. Please visit our Parents Corner on our website for more information.
The Sandy Springs police department is offering free driver education classes for teenagers and their parents. Classes are being held on February 16th and March 24th from 6pm-8pm at the Sandy Springs police headquarters, 5995 Barfield Rd. Instruction will be provided on traffic laws and concerns such as texting or phoning while driving. It is designed to help parents and teens determine what they should do during the 40 hours of supervised driving practice required to get a driver’s license.