STORY BY MARISSA DAILY
It’s my freshman year of college, and I jump in the car with a new friend. She climbs into the drivers’ seat and pulls out her slide phone immediately.
She texts — with two hands resting above the steering wheel — during the span of our short drive.
At the time, I was stunned. I was and still am absolutely against texting while driving.
It’s been three years since then, and things haven’t exactly improved. Despite the many campaigns and jarring TV ads to prevent it, texting while driving still causes 25 percent of all car accidents each year.
Maybe it’s the effortlessness? Gone are the days when you had to hit the keys on your Motorola Razr three times to get to the right letter. In the era of touch screens, texting is no longer painstaking: It’s fast. Easy. Simple. Or so we think.
Texting while driving is one of the things we all say we don’t do. It’s also one of society’s biggest lies. I’m guilty of it myself sometimes. The enticing ding of my iPhone in the cup holder is all it takes for the little demon on my shoulder to whisper, “Oh, it’ll only take three seconds! Take a peek!” You know what else can take three seconds? Death.
The United States Department of Transportation says the average crash happens only three seconds after the driver is distracted.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving is a whopping six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
Simple math shows that reading a text message for a mere five seconds at 55 mph is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.
We’ve all heard these statistics before, so why are we still texting at the wheel?
Because we, the young adults of America, are stupid.
The Ad Council reports that 77 percent of young adults are very/somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.
This statistic is “Dumb and Dumber” worthy.
Ant yet, it’s true. Until we’re the ones in the hospital bed or standing by a casket, we think we’re above all of this. We’re good drivers. Stellar multitaskers. Experienced gurus of texting. We’ve been doing this for years. To that, I’d like to say: So what?
It only takes a second to run into a fire hydrant, get stuck in a ditch or put someone in a wheelchair.
Making risky decisions with your own life is a personal decision. When you put others in danger, it becomes everyone’s business.
So how de we stop this? It starts with the decision to completely stop texting while driving. Here are some tricks I’ve implemented to keep myself from reaching for my phone while I drive.
1. If you are in the middle of a text conversation with someone, tell them when you get in the car so they don’t expect an immediate response.
Cell phone carrier AT&T started the “It Can Wait” campaign to encourage drivers to send friends or family an X before they drive to “pause” the conversation.
2. Put your phone on silent. Hearing a text tone makes it much more difficult to resist your curiosity.
3. No more cup holders. Place your cell phone in a place you absolutely cannot reach. Not the passenger seat — FAR. AWAY.
If you need to be drastic, throw it in the back seat. Unless you are on a long commute or expecting a vital call, it can wait.
4. Commit to not even touching your phone while you drive.
Don’t scroll through Facebook at the red light. Don’t take pictures of the sunset. If you need your phone for directions, put it on a hands-free attachment.
Here’s a little extra motivation: Texting while driving is illegal in 44 states.
In Iowa, the bill banning texting while driving was signed by Gov. Chet Culver on April 1, 2010, and went into effect three months later.
It’s not just a taboo. It’s illegal, and it has been for over four years.
Remember, every time you text, you are very seriously putting your life and the lives of others in danger.
Not only that, you are encouraging others to do the same. It never would have occurred to me to text and drive if I hadn’t seen my friend do it.
When I text and drive, I’m telling my passengers that it’s perfectly safe for them to do it, too.