by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – We’ve all done it, even though we know we shouldn’t. We may even feel bad about it after we do it but, for too many Missourians, that doesn’t stop us from doing it again.
Texting while behind the wheel.
As technology allows us to connect with each other faster, clearer and in more ways, the problem of distracted driving grows. Today’s leading technology companies are among those sounding the alarm and asking all of us to put the mobile device down when the vehicle is in “drive”.
We often hear statistics like that and assume it’s teenagers and college-aged drivers doing it. They are, but not as much as adults in the workforce. On “Missouri Viewpoints”, Hollingsworth sites a recent survey AT&T uses to study the trend to explain.
“Commuters are 50% more likely to text while driving than teens. Teens, only 43% say they text while driving, so it’s a big issue for every age.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant says that matches up with what he and his fellow troopers see on the roadways every day.
“It’s just a losing proposition. I don’t care who you are, it’s impossible to text and drive safely. You just can’t do it.”
While the problem is growing, making the roads less safe for all of us, there is an easy solution and it doesn’t involve the latest technology. In fact, it doesn’t involve any technology. Hollingsworth points out other results of the distracted driving survey that show good old fashioned human communication is often the answer when it comes to stopping distracted driving.
Ninety-percent of those who responded to the survey say they won’t text while driving when someone in the car with them simply asked them not to.
The survey also shows that teenagers who are specifically instructed by their parents to not text while behind the wheel are less likely to do it.
While Missouri law allows those 22 and older to text and drive legally, Nothum says the telltale signs of a distracted driver will get the attention of officers on patrol.
“We’re out looking for the person who is actually texting and driving and driving in a manner that’s going to create an issue for other people.”
Those indicators include unneeded slowing down and speeding up, drifting outside your lane and sudden stops when you get too close to the vehicle in front of you. They are similar to the indicators of someone who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
AT&T is among the companies pushing for everyone to take a pledge against distracted driving. You can take that pledge and get more information about the dangers at the “It Can Wait” website (www.ItCanWait.com) and a major educational push on the issue is planned for September 19th across the state.
One aide being offered is a free app for mobile devices called Drive Mode. That detects when your phone is moving at least 25 miles per hour and blocks incoming alerts. It can be programmed to send a response to a text message, email and/or phone call saying you are driving at the moment and will respond to the message later.
While new technology is being developed to help the simplest solution is having the willpower to ignore that mobile device instead of ignoring the roads and other drivers, even for a few seconds.
On the web:
AT&T : www.ATT.com
“It Can Wait” campaign: www.ItCanWait.com
Missouri State Highway Patrol: http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/Root/index.html
* AT&T Missouri is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”