Monday, May 24, 2010

A National Addiction: More People Die From Text Messaging Than Smoking Pot

It was an all too typical bicycle ride home from my job at a university library, which is to say kind of scary. Assailants hiding amidst the ivy? Drunk drivers on the streets? Rabid raccoons ready to nip at my ankles?


I hadn't even left campus the other afternoon when a coed walked toward me on a fairly narrow sidewalk. She was madly text messaging and oblivious to my approach and I had to swerve off the walk to avoid hitting her. Two blocks later, a woman text messaging while making a turn in her Toyota Prius nearly hit me. A block further along, two students who were text messaging in tandem -- to each other for all I know. They blocked the walk and I had to stop until they got well ahead of me.
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. -- Text messages were sent and received on a 17-year-old driver’s cell phone moments before her sport utility vehicle slammed head-on into a truck, killing her and four other recent high school graduates, police said.
While a goodly number of text messages are typed out and read from the relatively safety of offices desks and living room sofas, a majority are sent on the go, and texting now outpages voice transmissions on cell phones. It should come as no surprise that teenagers -- and girls in particular -- are the most prolific texters, and reliably ignore bans on using cell phones while driving.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two motorists died after an 18-year-old Glendale woman apparently became distracted by text-messaging on her cell-phone while driving, police said.
Texting while driving has become even deadlier than drunk driving, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance Group.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Luckily, no one beside the person suspected of drinking and texting was injured in a car accident today. According to KSL News, a woman who witnesses believed was texting, was weaving in and out of traffic and driving erratically for many blocks until she hit a parked car.
While firm statistics are hard to come by, one study estimates that the tab for cell phone usage, which of course includes texting, is 342,000 auto accidents and $43 billion in property damage each year. Meanwhile, an article in the magazine of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society published in 2005 suggested that there are 2,600 cell phone distraction-related deaths a year, and that number surely has grown.
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- Truck driver Jeffrey R. Knight was distracted by a text message he was reading when he drove his tractor-trailer into 10 cars backed up on Interstate 64, killing three people and injuring 15 more.
Yes, Americans are notorious multi-taskers. Yes, many states have laws prohibiting cell phone yes while driver, but that has not stanched the epidemic of accidents. It's time to get tough with texters up to and including revoking their licenses.

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