Letter to the editor: Texting while driving a greater distraction than alcohol


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Young woman typing text message while driving

Joe Bialek

This letter is in response to the articles covering the decision by the National Transportation Safety Board calling for a nationwide ban on the use of cellphones and text-messaging devices while driving.

It seems that every day we hear of yet another traffic “accident” resulting from road rage, teenagers speeding through curves or the average citizen being in a hurry to go nowhere. Now we are seeing the results of how cellphones/texting devices compromise the safety of a driver and those outside the vehicle.

When I back my car up and the rear of my vehicle strikes the rear of another vehicle (for instance in a supermarket parking lot), that is an accident. But when an individual operating a motor vehicle demonstrates such a callous disregard for the safety of others, that is reckless driving. This phenomenon is indicative of what has happened to our society; people could not care less about their fellow citizens. People would rather experience the “thrill” of traveling at high velocity than consider the consequences of their actions. Now they can travel at high speed and be distracted all at the same time. Evidently the punishments being meted out for these crimes are not severe enough, but then again it has never been proven that the death penalty has a direct effect on reducing murder.

One solution for reckless driving caused by the use of cellphones (while driving) is the installment of a device allowing for hands-free cellphone use. Essentially the cellphone operates through the car radio. All drivers must be required to have this installed in their motor vehicle. This solution may not prevent all drivers from being distracted by cellphone use, but it would sure be a strong attempt at keeping our attention where it belongs.

As for texting devices, we must outlaw their use in a motor vehicle, period. My nephew was killed in a car accident as a result of a texting argument with his girlfriend. The autopsy confirmed there was no drugs or alcohol in his system. Studies have confirmed that texting lowers a driver’s reaction time worse than alcohol.

Unfortunately there is really no way you can stop their use unless you spot someone texting or you find the device among the rubble of a mangled car or truck. There is too much evidence to indicate that most people cannot “chew the fat” and drive at the same time. As for cost, the same argument can be made about the airlines failure to install cockpit security doors. If those cockpits had been secure on Sept. 11 (after 30 years of airplane hijackings), some 3,000-plus United States citizens would be alive today. My nephew would be as well.