, Port Arthur, Texas


September 19, 2012

Editorial: Potential price of texting while driving way too high

PORT ARTHUR — One of the most uncomfortable situations for drivers is to look over in the next lane to see a neighboring driver thumb typing on a cell phone — sending a text message. That situation is so uncomfortable because we know how distracted that person is, and we know they are in control of more than a ton of steel moving who knows how fast — and they are only feet away.

Driver inattention is the No. 1 cause of vehicle crashes, accounting for more than 80 percent of wrecks — 4.78 million crashes last year, according to a proclamation issued this week by Jefferson County Commissioners Court declaring Wednesday Texting While Driving Awareness Day.

A few facts about testing while driving:

• While teenagers are texting, they spend about 10 percent of the time outside the driving lane they’re supposed to be in.

• Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.

• Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. That is enough time to travel the length of a football field.

When that alert sounds on your phone signaling a text message has arrived, it’s hard to resist the temptation to take a look. But it’s harder to pay for the damages caused by a crash resulting from distraction. And harder yet to heal from possible injuries resulting from such a crash, that is if you do get to heal. But nothing may be harder than knowing your inattention for a few moments caused serious injury or death to an innocent victim.

It may be hard to resist the lure of the cell phone — or other distractions — while behind the wheel, but once you think about it the potential price is way too high.

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