Our Voice: Drivers of all ages who text must change their ways

May 17, 2013 

We've all heard plenty of horror stories about texting and driving. And we've seen lots of sobering videos about the practice.

It's deadly.

So why are there still so many teens -- and adults -- who do it?

Think to yourself and answer honestly: Are you guilty?

In a new California study, two-thirds of adults admitted to talking on the phone while driving and one-third admitted to texting while driving.

We don't know what the statistics are for fiddling with your other electronic devices -- GPS, iPod, etc. -- but we're sure anytime you take your eyes off the road and divert your attention away from driving, that's a bad idea.

On the teen front, the good news is that fewer teens are drinking and driving. The bad news is that more are texting and driving.

Why the difference?

Part of it has to be attributed to opportunity. Even among kids who drink, they don't drink all day long. Texting, on the other hand, is practically a nonstop activity.

Part of the decreased drinking-and-driving rate might be the education factor. For example, in the Tri-Cities many students are exposed to a highly emotional "Every 15 Minutes" program, where the grim reaper comes into school classrooms and "claims" students throughout the day.

Those kids don't go home that night. Their parents write letters to them as if they died and read them to the student body at an assembly the next day. where the kids re-enact the "accident."

Drinking and driving is taboo and everyone knows it. Programs like "Every 15 Minutes" and the gory films that new drivers watch in driver's ed used to primarily focus on drunken driving. Now they include an anti-texting message.

But the decline in drinking has taken years. We fear the texting problem is still on the rise.

Most people probably know that texting and driving is dangerous, but somehow think they are the exception to the rule.

All drivers should be warned. When it comes to the laws of physics, there are no exceptions. And few second chances.

So what's the solution? Tougher laws? Surprisingly the percentage of kids who text and drive in states where it's illegal is identical to states where it's not prohibited.

Making it illegal isn't slowing the problem.

We must start by setting a better example for our teen drivers. We have to get the adults on board. Yes, we're talking to you.

Don't talk or text when you drive. Don't allow the teens in your life to do so.

There are enough tragedies in this world that we can't prevent. Let's put an end to this very preventable, but deadly, habit.

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