Editorial: It’s simple. Don’t text and drive.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and a story in The Fresno Bee ran over the weekend that I think needs to be shared.
We hear a lot about texting while driving, but I don’t believe our young drivers are listening.
Amanda Clark was a typical teen enjoying her freedom and her vehicle. That vehicle rolled three times due to her being on the phone with friends. She survived. She pledged not to let her phone distract her from driving again.
A year later, almost to the day of the first crash, her pledge and her luck ran out. According to her mom, Amanda was feeling more secure in her driving and was back to using her cell in the car. She lost control of her car on the freeway while arguing with her roommate via text. Amanda died in that crash.
Sadly in Arizona, there are no bans on handheld cell phones or texting while driving. However, Phoenix and Tucson prohibit texting and fines are $100 or $250 if texting is the cause of an accident.
Did you know that Arizona is one of only two states with no statewide texting-while-driving ban? It’s illegal for all drivers in 44 states, and four states make it illegal for teen drivers.
Arizona’s Department of Motor Vehicles does promote awareness of distracted driving. “Even if it’s just for a brief text, the results can be deadly.
Consider the following statistics:
• When you send a text, you take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. That’s the time it takes to drive the length of a football field going 55 mph. (U.S. Department of Transportation).
• At any moment during the daylight hours, about 660,000 drivers are handling cell phones or other electronic devices while driving in the U.S. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
• You are 3 times more likely to get into an accident when distracted driving by manipulating a mobile device (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).”
Prescott’s own Rep. Karen Fann is a champion for getting young drivers to stop texting. Unfortunately her bill has not yet made it. Keep trying, Karen! You are in the right here.
Fann’s bill would prohibit drivers ages 16 and 17 from using cellphones at all while they are driving.
Until Arizona steps up and passes a bill to limit or ban cell phone use while driving, parents need to be proactive in their children’s driving experience. Teach your children by example – put down your phone while you are driving.
After more than 30 years of driving, I know I can’t handle a phone and my car at the same time. If you think you can, you are fooling yourself and putting us all in danger.