Texting and Driving: a Danger to Yourself and Others

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A new Georgia law will ban holding your phone while driving.

 

By: Maggie Belenky
Holy Innocents Episcopal School

Cell phone distractions while driving has been a problem since they became mainstream, specifically in young adults. The CDC lists texting while driving as the leading cause of deaths in teenagers. For young, less experienced drivers, having split focus from the road can be very dangerous. In fact, 3,000 young drivers die every year, which is more than the number of deaths caused by drunk driving, 2,700.

Despite the laws prohibiting texting and driving,many still  ignore the rules and continue to drive distracted.

On July 21, 2015, 17-year-old Carlee Rose Bollig was behind the wheel of a pickup truck when she ran a red light on a busy intersection, while testing her friends. Charles Mauer and her 10-year-old daughter, Cassy, were on their way back from their local library, the Monticello library, when Bollig slammed into their car and killed them. Sherburne County prosecutors charged Bollig with criminal vehicular homicide, using a phone while in motion and driving without a valid license.

Another example was in Texas on Aug. 8, 2008. 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young was driving a church bus with 14 people, most of them were in their 50s or older from First Baptist Church in New Braunfels. The bus was traveling about 100 miles from San Antonio, when it collided with a Dodge pickup truck, according to Lt. Johnny Hernandez. Witness, Jody Kuchler, told the Associated Press that he saw Young on his phone. Thirteen out of the 14 people on the bus died.

Rising UGA sophomore, Willie Daniely, says he often witnesses cases of distracted driving on campus. “All across campus, jaywalking is a really big problem. There was a girl in a car and a boy on a bike and she bumped into him,” said Daniely.

UGA allows freshmen to bring their cars to campus, which leads to more young adults distracted on the road. Daniely says, “I like having it. But do I think it’s necessary? No because all the freshmen dorms are really close to everything on campus.”

Grady College Dean Charles N. Davis said he knows some institutions don’t allow freshman to drive on campus, but he doesn’t agree with those policies. “I don’t quite understand the links between that policy and any outcome that they are looking for. You are driving in high school, so why stop driving. Logically, it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Davis witnesses many cases of texting and driving throughout his day.”It’s one of those things where everyone knows intellectually that they shouldn’t be texting and driving.”

On July 1, 2018, Georgia’s new law, House Bill 673, will be active. This law requires drivers to be “hands-free” of any technology.  The law prohibits holding or supporting, which means on any part of your body, a wireless device. It also forbids any form of texting, emailing, or searching on the internet, as well as reading. It bans watching any video other than what is related to the navigation system and recording videos. Speaking or hands-free texting is allowed. So is GPS or mapping systems, wearing/using smart watches, using an earpiece for a phone, any form of radio. There are exceptions to this new law. Those are reporting a medical emergency, traffic incident, fire or a crime. Policemen, firefighters, ambulances and other first-hand responders are exempted from the law.

Davis believes that Georgia’s new hands-free law will be a success. “I think it will work because that a good section of the population tries to follow the law. When laws are passed, I think the majority of the people go ‘yep that’s the law, so I got to follow it’. Despite your own personal feelings about it, you have a civic responsibility to follow it.”

Rising senior in high school, Sam Martin said “either I’m driving without my phone and I am fine, but if I’m with my phone, i’m kind of all over the place. If I can actually follow the law and put down my phone, I think that would help everybody, but the odds of people actually following it are pretty low.”

The car industry has identified and accepted the problem. They have taken steps of syncing mobile phones with the car to allow texts messages and phone call to appear on the car dashboard. Some cars even allow the driver to respond orally to the text.

Even though there are new laws being instated and other methods from cars developing, it’s up to the driver, young or experienced, to understand the dangers of driving distracted and to govern themselves accordingly to not only to ensure the safety of others, but for their own lives.

Stats:

  • 26% of all car crashes in 2014 where because technology use
  • At least 9 people are killed each day because of a distracted driver
  • More than 1000 people are hurt everyday because of a distracted driver
  • Texting and driving is the leading cause of death in teens
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