Don’t Kill The Messenger – or Anybody Else! Texting & Driving in RI – 1 of 2
It seems that as long as humans have been able to invent methods of transportation – from the horse-drawn buggy to the fanciest cars, trucks, and motorcycles – they’ve just as quickly followed with new and more foolish methods of distraction to keep themselves from the very thing they should MOST be paying attention to, which is OPERATING SAID VEHICLE!
Of course drinking alcohol was a factor from the word “go,” followed not far behind by the invention of fast food restaurants, where the original intention was to eat the food IN the car, not while DRIVING it! Other psychoactive-active substances were soon added to the list, such as marijuana and other street drugs, and soon we had a recipe for vehicular disaster, with impaired drivers not only chowing down and washing it back with a cold one, but merrily chatting away in engaging conversations with other revelers.
Then came stoners singing along to their favorite song full blast, oblivious to the traffic around them – and most especially the fact that all other traffic is also being operated by other humans, who probably aren’t expecting you to suddenly forget you’re operating a vehicle in traffic, driving several tons of metal at a high rate of speed, and in imminent likelihood of causing a serious crash or some kind of accident.
Fast forward to the present. Now we have all kinds of electronic technology — the GPS, the Cell Phone, the iPad, and people intent on logging their every movement onto Facebook. But which of these gadgets presents the most serious hazard to ALL OF US? TEXTING. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.”
This Federal Agency reports that “sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent – when traveling at 55 mph – of driving the entire length of a football field while blindfolded.”
The NHTSA further reports that texting in cars and trucks causes over 3,000 DEATHS and 330,000 INJURIES per year, according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study.
Texting while driving now causes more deaths among teenagers than does alcohol intoxication. But it’s not just teens who are doing the texting – 47% of adults have admitted to texting while driving as well! And texting drivers of ANY age are 23 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than drivers who refrain from this dangerous behavior.
What are the legal repercussions for those who cause accidents while texting, or fiddling with the GPS, web surfing, Face Booking, or have one hand around a burger and the other around a drink, while driving with their knees?
Texting while driving was banned in Rhode Island in 2009. Under then-Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and in concert with the RIDOT and AT&T’s “Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait” awareness campaign to High Schools throughout Rhode Island, students were made aware of the real and serious dangers of texting while driving. Then RIDOT-Director Michael Lewis told Rhode Island students:
“Texting while driving is a choice, and a bad one at that. We encourage all drivers to make the right choices behind the wheel, like putting away handheld devices, obeying the speed limit, and always buckling up,” said Lewis. “Young drivers, in particular, are inexperienced behind the wheel and don’t need additional distractions. As we have learned, the consequences of sending or reading a text can be deadly. Don’t text and drive. It can wait.”