Just recently a young Asheville resident lost his life in a car crash. 21 year old Jefferson Ellis Jr. was texting when he crossed the center line and drove into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He was not wearing his seatbelt. Asheville police knew he was texting because of the time stamps in his cell phone. The 911 call came in at 7:22am and the time stamp of the last text sent in his cell phone was just after 7:21am. It’s not hard to figure out that from the time of the text, less than a minute passed before someone called 911.
In December of 2009 the law banning texting while driving went into effect. The law states that you either have to pull over or wait until your vehicle is stopped before texting or e-mailing. If you’re caught texting, the fine is $100 plus court costs, but there are no points on your license. Bus drivers are still banned from using cell phones on the road. There are a few exceptions for emergency responders and for those who use voice-activated technology like GPS. While the law was put into place with good intent, it is hard to enforce. The hope was that if people knew it was illegal that alone would keep them from texting.
Driving demands complete focus and the distraction of texting compromises that focus. Any second your eyes are away from the road is a second that could cost you your life. Texting can impact driver reaction time as much as or even more than driving while intoxicated. For teens and inexperienced drivers the distraction of texting is even more hazardous. Teens can create and send text messages in about 10 to 15 seconds, doesn’t seem like a lot of time does it? But in those seconds a car travelling 60 mph can cover more than 80 feet per second.
It’s more important than ever to educate our children and all drivers about the dangers of texting while driving. Let us not forget ourselves that we too are at risk from any texting that we do as well as the texting done by other drivers on the road.