COMPILED BY THE KNOWLEDGE STAFF
How many things can people do behind the wheel besides drive? It’s not bad enough that some folks yak on the phone, oblivious to what’s going on around them. Some aren’t satisfied until they’re trying to steer, hold a cellphone and type a message all at one time. Can you do that with two hands? More importantly, can you do that with one brain?
I consider myself a pretty cautious driver, always being mindful of others around me on the road. Staying aware of my surroundings has allowed me to dodge deer, drunk drivers and flying tires. So far, I’ve managed to stay accident-free for the last 12 years — not that I haven’t pushed my luck. During the last three years, I got caught up with text messaging. I initially hated texting and didn’t see any point to it. Keying in a message took twice as long as calling and you had to pay extra for the luxury of this headache.
However, as it became commonplace, I grew accustomed to texting and it became a part of my everyday life. My friends and I would communicate via text whether I was at home, work or driving my car. Because I thought it would be more high speed, I even got a new phone with a QWERTY keyboard, which was a lot easier and faster than using number keys.
After going to work as a safety specialist with the Delaware National Guard, I regained a strong grasp on being safe and promoting safety. During some research, I came across an article that piqued my interest. The article, which was based upon a study conducted in England, stated text messaging while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.
As I read the article, it really changed my way of thinking. It showed text messaging increased reaction times by 35 percent, compared to 12 percent for drunk drivers and 21 percent for those using marijuana. The article reported text-messaging drivers were 91 percent poorer in their steering skills (staying in their lane) than drivers paying full attention to the road. The article also stated it took an average of 63 seconds for a text message to be composed and sent compared to 22 seconds when sent from a desk. A multitude of disasters can happen in 63 seconds.
That got my attention. While I’d never be foolish enough to drink and drive, I have texted complete conversations while behind the wheel. The numbers were compelling. I thought about the times paying attention to my driving kept me from an accident or a near miss. I immediately stopped using my cellphone while driving, especially for texting. I realized that if I didn’t, it wasn’t a matter of if but when I would have an accident.
Looking back on that decision, I’m glad I made it before something devastating happened to me or someone else. I cherish my life; there is no one in this world I’d risk losing it for just to send a text message. Also, I don’t want to have on my conscience the death or injury of someone else because of my negligence.
If you wouldn’t drink and drive, why make an even worse decision to text and drive? Consider the risks, which far outweigh the benefits. If you have something important to say, park on the side of the road and call. After all, which would you rather give your full concentration to — a conversation or a collision?