Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

Author: Brittany Chan

Imagine this scenario: You’re driving to meet a friend for lunch in the middle of your busy day. Suddenly, you hear your phone beep from inside your pocket. Traffic is fairly slow, so you dig your phone out. It’s a text from your friend: "Where r u?" You look up at the road; the vehicle in front of you is still a few car lengths ahead. "Coming," you type, stopping to glance up every few seconds. You send the message, drop the phone in your lap, and continue safely on your way.

Except some people aren’t so lucky. They look up, mid-"LOL," to see a pedestrian's panicked eyes right before he hits the windshield. Or hear the frightened screams of the other passengers as the car careens over the median into opposing traffic.

We love technology. We love being connected, we love our smart phones, our emails, our instant communications. It’s easy to think that one text sent on the way to work is relatively harmless and can even save time in our hectic schedules. But texting and driving has become a major public safety issue, and has resulted in many tragic deaths and senseless injuries. Not surprisingly, teens are the most common victims.

Here are a couple unsettling statistics from The National Safety Council (taken from the Cell Phone Crash Estimate Fact Sheet):

- Texting and other cell-phone use (both handheld and hands-free) contributes to 28% of traffic accidents.
- You are 8 to 23 times more likely to get into a crash if you’re text messaging while driving.

In March 2010, AT&T launched its "It Can Wait" campaign to warn people of the dangers of texting and driving. I recently watched the campaign video, "The Last Text," in which real people speak out about the negative impact that texting-and-driving accidents have had on their lives. From the tearful mother whose daughter died the day before graduation to a young man who lost his ability to walk or speak fluently, this poignant video, posted below, really captures the profound effects of a meaningless text sent at the wrong time.

After seeing the video, researching some of the statistics, and reading the stories of other victims, I made a personal promise to myself to ignore my phone while behind the wheel. I highly encourage you to watch the video and to share it and its message with your loved ones.

About the author:

Brittany Chan is a second-year medical student at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas. She is also a candidate for an MBA in Health Organization Management from the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. Originally from the Houston area, she graduated summa cum laude with degrees in psychology and general studies from Texas Tech University in 2009. In addition to blogging, Brittany enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with family and friends.

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