The nation risks a relentless rise in deadly accidents unless it makes texting while driving as forbidden as drinking and driving. Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road long enough to drive the length of a football field while driving an average speed of 55 miles per hour; that does not include having a reaction time. Distraction behind the wheel is becoming the new Driving under the influence, and is reaching epidemic proportions.
The United States Department of Transportation has launched a variety of campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving making April the National Distracted Driving Awareness month. Few studies have investigated whether a difference exists between the two laws which intend to eradicate drinking and driving and texting while driving. All fifty states have a per se law setting the limit of alcohol to . 08 Blood Alcohol Content for drinking and driving. This law means any blood alcohol at or above . 08 is in fact a crime while operating a vehicle.
As of today, 40 states have a texting ban on all drivers (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2012). Even with a national push to ban texting while driving, Congress has not passed any acts making adopting a ban beneficial to a state such as the way congress praised the . 08 per se law for drinking and driving. According to the National Highway Administration, there were 32,885 deaths in motor vehicle collisions in 2010 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010). Distracted driving provided 5,474 of those fatalities.
Cell phone use was fully known to have caused 995 of the distracted driver deaths, but that number could be greater due to officers having a hard time determining whether a cell phone undoubtedly contributed to more of the fatal collision. Alternatively, 12,744 of the entire deaths in 2010 had at least one driver’s blood alcohol content higher than . 01 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010). These numbers show that drinking and driving is still the leading cause in collisions associated with fatalities. Driving, along with distractions like cell phones, are included into everyday driving at an overwhelming rate.
Texting is on the rise and more than few of those messages, unquestionably, are being transmitted by individuals driving vehicles. According to CNBC (2009) unimpaired drivers driving 70 miles per hour were able to react to braking in . 54 seconds. Legally impaired drivers added an extra four feet to react, drivers reading an email added an extra 36 feet to react, and drivers sending a text message added an extra 70 feet to react in braking (The Results). National cliques have been assembled to eliminate and campaign for decreasing texting while driving and drinking and driving.
The biggest non-profit advocacy group for eliminating drinking and driving is Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD campaigns for the requirement of convicted drivers to blow into an alcohol detection system installed in the drivers vehicle before they are able to start the car. They push for one day all vehicles to have this system installed in hopes for a cure to eliminating drinking and driving all together (MADD, 2012). Distracted driving has a campaigning group called Focus Driven. Focus Driven consists of advocates who have lost someone due to distracted driving.
They are currently working toward legislative bans for cell phone use. Other smaller groups working toward eliminating cell phone usage while driving are Stay Alive, Just Drive, AT&T Stop Texting While Driving Pledge, and Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge. These groups get the public to sign a pledge promising they will not use their cell phones while operating their vehicle. A federal national non-profit group called distraction. gov was created by United States department of transportation as a way to answer the call from the advocacy groups to eliminate distracted driving (NHTSA, 2012).
According to NHTSA (2012), the group assembles current news stories from all over the nation and coordinates research on distracted driving and works with government agencies on the distracted driving issues. The enforcement of driving laws policies comes in two arrangements which are either primary or secondary. A primary offense means an officer can pull you over for the particular violation of the law that the officer witnesses of you committing. A secondary offense requires the officer to have a primary offense to pull a violator over and can only enforce the law if there is a primary violation (NHTSA, 2012).
As mentioned earlier, the national government persuaded state legislators to authorize . 08 per se law for drinking and driving since it is ultimately up to the each individual state to determine bans and severity of punishments for violating bans. This influence lead to all states to appoint drinking and driving illegal at . 08 but each state can decide different penalties. No such influence has been pushed upon states for texting bans. Texting while driving is a growing concern for the public. With increasing awareness Americans can anticipate positive changes to come around slowly, even though injuries will likely occur for some time.
Parents are urged to discipline themselves and educate their young drivers on why it is crucial to be composed and focused while driving and keep the cell phones put away and on silent mode to avoid temptation until they have arrived at their final destination. Texting, like drinking is fine when you are at sitting at home, but never acceptable while driving. Consuming alcohol or using a cell phone while controlling a 4,000 pound hunk of metal is a deadly decision and can change a life in a second.
CNBC. (2009). Texting While Driving Worse Than Drinking and Driving. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/31545004/site/14081545
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (2012). Cellphone and texting laws. Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/laws/cellphonelaws.aspx
MADD. (2012). MADD- About Us. Retrieved from http://www.madd.org/about-us/
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2010). FARS Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
NHTSA. (2012). Distracted Driving . Retrieved from http://www.distraction.gov/