Texting Worth Dying For?!

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Texting while driving is illegal, yet it continues. Are you friends with someone who texts while driving, and want to do something about it? It’s called an addiction to texting and driving, and there are a few things you should know to help stop the addiction.

On Nov. 8, NYIT held a texting and driving seminar organized under the auspices of a company called Peers Awareness. This seminar was designed to teach students how much their driving can be affected when they are trying to text and drive at the same time.

Immediately, you knew this was not going to be your ordinary free hour event, simply because there was a car involved—yes, a car, parked right in the middle of the quad. A silver Chevy Aveo was put in the center of the quad with sensor pads and wires connected to it and to a computer to show you how students drive when they are texting. Students signed a pledge to not text and drive, got into the car, adjusted the seat, put on the virtual reality goggles and saw how they would drive if they were texting. While driving, the person working the computer asked the drivers to text something on their cell phones, such as “What are you doing tonight?” or “See you in a minute.” 72 students participated in this event and had varying results. Some students crashed, many others narrowly avoided an accident.

Many students tried it—and crashed. Luckily it was a simulation. There are students, however, who were still not convinced. “I think the simulation was not quite as accurate as it could have been,” says Ralph DeMayo, a senior student majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies. DeMayo tried the simulator twice and crashed both times but blamed the machine. “The machine made it difficult texting or no texting because the brakes had trouble working at times.”

The website Straight Talk Law, calls texting and driving an addiction, and a dangerous one. According to an article on their website, a 23-year old named Tyler Strandberg has totaled three cars in the past three years. All of the accidents were because she was either talking or texting on her phone. Strandberg has learned that texting and driving is asking for trouble. “Sometimes I will zone out and forget I’m driving,” says Strandberg. “If I’m on the phone talking about something that takes up all my focus, I’m looking straight ahead — but not even seeing what’s there. Wow! That’s a recipe for a serious accident.” That was the purpose of the NYIT demonstration: To remind us how harmful texting and driving can be to both the driver and the people around them. A driver’s concentration can be severely reduced when they are texting, putting on make-up or doing anything that could distract them. According to textingaccidents.com, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Source: Carnegie Mellon). In other words, when you text and drive, you’ve lost over a third of your attention, while simultaneously trying to operate a multi-ton motor vehicle at 55 miles per hour.

Here are some sobering statistics on distracted driving from textingaccidents.com.

• Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (Source: NHTSA)

• Drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

• Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

• Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

While potential death or serious injury are very good reasons to stop texting and driving, there are also legal consequences that can come from it as well. According to Newsday, law enforcement officials across the state issued 1,082 tickets for violating the texting and driving offense. Violators faced two points on their license and up to a $150 fine. Getting caught by law enforcement is not something you want to deal with just because you were texting while driving. You will lose time and money if you are caught violating the offense. If you feel like texting your friend, it is best to do it when you are not in the driver’s seat.

Talking on your cell phone can increase your chances of a collision by 400 percent.

Then again, chances are you know that texting and driving is dangerous. It’s just common sense. So why do so many people…especially students…continue to do it? “A common reason people text and drive is because they are pressured to respond to their friends as soon as they can,” said Paulette Giambalvo, Assistant Director of NYIT’s Wellness Services, which hosted the free hour seminar. “People can feel pressured to respond to their friends quickly because they worry their friends will be upset with them if they don’t.” If you ever feel pressured to send a text message to your friend while you are driving, ask yourself: Is it worth getting into an accident over…is your rapid response worth your life?

Box the Below:

According to a CNBC article written by Phil J. LeBeau, a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter, texting and driving is actually worse than drinking and driving. A magazine conducted a test to see which of the two were worse for a driver to do. The test involved seeing how long it took to hit the brake when sober, when legally drunk at .08, when reading an e-mail, and when sending a text.

The results came out to show the following information:
• Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake
• Legally drunk: add 4 feet
• Reading e-mail: add 36 feet
• Sending a text: add 70 feet

This test shows that texting and driving is actually worse than drinking and driving. With all of the accidents that people have seen from drinking and driving, think of how many more accidents happen because people were driving while they were texting to their friend. According to a CNBC report published on Jun. 25, 2009, the reason that people are not as outraged with texting and driving as they are with drinking and driving is because there have not been as many accidents publicized about texting and driving as there have been about drinking and driving. It is believed that it will take more accidents and deaths to change peoples’ views on texting and driving. So maybe now, to go along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), we need Mothers Against Texting and Driving (MATD).

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Texting Worth Dying For?!