It almost goes without saying that driving while distracted is a huge problem in Dallas-Fort Worth. When I first started driving, the only in-car distraction was listening to the radio. Then came the added distraction of talking on cell phones while driving. Since I began working in auto accident law as a personal injury attorney in 1991, I have seen the number of dangerous distractions increase exponentially. Today, the biggest distraction and also the biggest danger to all of us is the phenomenon of texting while driving. Studies have shown that drivers who are texting are six times more likely to crash, and this kind of distracted driving is frequently causing more fatal crashes as well. As the cause of fatal crashes, texting has increased from 8% in 2004 to 11% in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Handheld phone use while driving is illegal in most European countries and already 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.
Texting while driving is illegal here in Texas for those under 18, but unfortunately many teens still text and drive. So I am trying to do something about it. My focus is going to be on teens. Why teens? Well, they just love to text and they just happen to be our most inexperienced drivers. Those of you who have kids (or grandkids) that are old enough to have a cell phone know exactly what I mean. Kids love to text. And when they start driving, it is tempting for them to try to text and drive at the same time. The NHTSA 2008 nationwide survey shows use of hand held devices by teens is up considerably. This age group also has the highest statistics for fatal crashes: 16% of fatal crashes caused by distracted driving in 2008 were by drivers under the age of 20.
So how bad are drivers who text? The magazine Car and Driver recently conducted a small study comparing texting while driving with drunk driving, and their results were surprising. The participants were given a series of driving tests to perform while texting and then while intoxicated, and they actually did worse while texting. The participants themselves were stunned at the results, because while everyone knows drunk driving is dangerous, few people realize how deadly texting while driving can be.
Here Is My Plan:
I am in the process of getting a ton of rubber bracelets made up (think the yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets that are very popular). My plan is work with local schools, possibly an organization within each school, to provide the bracelets and pledge cards. If a student signs the pledge to not text and drive, then the kid gets the cool looking bracelet. Each bracelet will be imprinted with the following:
I PLDG 2 NT TXT N DRV
If the school organization wants to sell the bracelets as a fund raiser, then that is great. The bracelets and the signed pledge cards will hopefully raise awareness among teens of the dangers of texting and driving. And just with drunk driving, raising awareness is the best way to attack this problem.
I want this project to work, but I need your help. I need suggestions on who to talk to at the school level. If any of you have a high school aged child who wants to bring this project to his or her school OR if you know someone at your local school who you think may be interested in taking on this project, then PLEASE contact me. I really need your help! I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling toll free 877.294.1115.
TADD finished June 2010- Click Here For Final Results