Sending a short text message behind the wheel seems harmless. It’s common, accepted and often expected.
However, even the briefest text messages require at least five seconds of your attention. At 55 mph, typing for five seconds is the equivalent to driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.
And it only takes five seconds to make a potentially fatal mistake. Texting and driving accounted for 23 percent of car accidents in 2011. This startling statistic has led several states and local cities to implement texting bans.
A state-wide texting ban has been vetoed, despite convincing evidence: traffic fatalities have dropped by 3 percent in states where texting and driving is banned, according to a study from the American Journal of Public Health. Prohibiting texting has cut deaths among 15-to-21-year-old drivers by 11 percent.
Forty-Three Percent Of Teens Admit To Texting And Driving
Unsurprisingly, texting and driving is most common and accepted among teenagers, who are new and inexperienced behind the wheel. This has led to millions of dollars spent on campaigns to warn young drivers of the dangers of texting and driving.
But teenage drivers aren’t receiving the message. An AT&T Teen Driver Survey found that while 97 percent of 15-to-19-year-old drivers know texting and driving is dangerous, 43 percent admit to doing it.
Although harrowing, these statistics are not surprising, Today’s teenagers are immersed in a culture that accepts and encourages constant texting. When you combine this culture with a feeling of invincibility, a common sentiment among teens, the results can be deadly.
Texting And Driving Will Cost You $200 In Denton
A few cities in DFW have put the brakes on texting and driving, including Arlington, Grand Prairie and Denton.
Dalton Gregory, who has served on Denton’s city council for five years, said the police department recommended banning all cell phone use to ease enforcement. “There were those who were concerned people would hide their phones in their laps, which takes their eyes further from the road,” he explained. “Some council members thought that enforcement was too strict.”
The city council decided to implement a texting and driving ban that extends to using Facebook, Twitter, Internet and email. Although it hasn’t been approved in Texas, other states have established a similar policy.
“Many states have passed state-wide bans on texting,” Gregory said. “And the mobile phone industry supports these types of bans, so we are not seeing a push back from the industry.”
As Denton houses University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, the council weighed the dangers of texting and driving among college-aged drivers. “I drive through Texas Woman’s University regularly, and I see people texting while they are driving,” Gregory said. “So that was a consideration [when deciding on the city's policy.]”
Teens Aren’t The Only Culprits In School Zones
In Texas, it’s a misdemeanor offense for all drivers to operate a cell phone in active school zone. This includes making calls, texting while driving and checking social media.
Steve Mace, community information officer for the City of University Park, said, “Motorists all across the country need to be reminded, especially after the long summer break, the requirements of driving in active school zones.”
If you are seen operating a cell phone when school zone lights are flashing, you will be given a $135 citation in University Park. Mace explains that this amendment applies to all drivers.
“We can’t let anyone off the hook,” he said. “Busy moms and dads with drop-off responsibility are guilty of this too. It runs through all ages.”