Monday, February 26, 2007

Driving while Texting Bringing our Youth Down From Cyberspace

There was a very disturbing article in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer that highlighted the dangers of driving while texting while not offering any solutions to the problem.

The giggly tone of the teens being interviewed was most disturbing, as if there are no consequences for their actions. One teen stated that "I text while I drive to make plans with friends, or to tell my friends about someone I met last night."

The article failed to accurately portray the horrifying results to this unchecked behavior, in fact the statistics are startling. If these deaths were at the hands of terrorists or gangs there would be a national call to action.

The Harvard University's Center for Risk Analysis estimates that cell phones are the cause of 2600 deaths, and 570,000 injuries each year. Mobile phones are also to blame for 1.5 million crashes per year resulting in property damage.

A study from the University of Utah found that motorists who talked on hands-free cell phones were 18 percent slower in braking and took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked. An earlier study by the same researchers found that drivers talking on hands-free cell phones were less likely to recall seeing pedestrians, billboards or other roadside features.

In Urbana IL a 19 YO woman was sentenced to 6 years in prison for killing a bicyclist while downloading ring tones. And yes the victim was wearing a helmet.

In April of 2005 22 YO Kataryzna Returuk was killed by an 18 YO allegedly talking on a cell phone on the notorius Route 1 in Sussex County Delaware between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

A 17 YO female driver on a cell phone killed a 33 YO cyclist in a bike lane in Chilliwack British Columbia.

A Colorado teen who was retrieving a text message on his cell phone when he struck and killed a bicyclist received 9 days in jail, 4 years probation, and 300 hours of community service, which includes talks to local bicycling groups.

I can go on and on. I hope everyone writes to the Inquirer with a reply to this story.