By Samantha Braudrick
On November 15, 2013 I had made the worst mistake of my life. I was texting and driving and I got in a collision that ended up totaling my car. This accident changed my driving outlook for the rest of my life. I had small injuries and luckily the car I hit was not too badly damaged. But this lesson is one that I want to tell the world about because I want to stop what happened to myself from happening to anyone else.
According to textinganddriving.com, in the year 2011, 23% percent of auto collisions involved cell phones, that is 1.3 million car crashes. These numbers are painstakingly high for something that can so easily be stopped. I know that when I got in my accident, I thought that if just for 3 seconds I would have focused on the road instead of looking down at that text, I could still have my car and my low insurance. That could have been one less accident in the percentage for the year 2013, if I just decided to wait to text after I was done driving. While texting and driving, you are approximately looking away from the road for 5 seconds. If you are traveling at 55 mph that means you are looking down while driving the length of a football field. The scariest statistic I found was actually that texting makes a crash 23 times more likely to happen. Just by doing such a simple task like texting can increase your chances to hurt yourself or someone else in a collision.
13% of drivers under the age of 20 that are involved in car wrecks admit that they were texting or talking on their cellphones at the time of the crash. This percent should actually be much higher because many kids do not admit to the reason for the crash being that they were on a cellphone. I know I did not and I can name a handful of friends who did not either. Another scary fact is that 77% of young adults believe that they are confident in their abilities to safely text and drive. This is frightening because I was one in that 77% and at it only took one time of a mishap on the freeway to prove to myself that I, in fact, was not capable of safely texting and driving. Only 10 states plus Washington D.C prohibits all drivers from using handheld cell phones in the car. This number should be higher, but it really is only up to the drivers to be smart and aware of the tragedies that come with using their cell phones while driving. The laws can change all they want, but what we need to do is get individuals involved to realize the numbers and pledge to stop texting and driving.
Speaking of promising not to text and drive, there is now a website called textinganddrivingsafety.com where you can sign something called a “Text Free Driving Pledge”. You can simply print out the “contract” initial, and sign. I believe this would be an incredible idea to have your child do before driving is even a regular part of their regular lives, to stop the habit before it becomes one. At the common driving age of 16 I believe both the parent and the child should sign this contract and abide by it.
Now if one needs a little more active approach to stop texting and driving they can actually download an Application on most smartphones called “Drive Mode”, this app puts the phone in a drive mode so that if the driver attempts to text or call while their vehicle is in drive, an email will be sent to their parent. This is a great app because parents can then set consequences if the child is in fact caught texting and driving. There are other apps out there to stop texting and driving, some that disable their ability to call or text until they turn the drive mode off, with abilities to call for emergencies of course. These are some more active responses to stop this almost “epidemic” of texting and driving issue.
Then there is the response that I use, simply putting my phone in my purse and putting my purse in the back seat, or even simply putting it into my glove box. This way may take a bit more willpower, but it becomes a habit to put it there and refrain, for the time being, from using your cell phone while driving.
Whichever anti-texting and driving solution works for you use it. The deaths and crashes per year because of texting and driving is too high, and most definitely not worth it. Any text or phone call can wait until you get to your destination, and if it can’t, pulling over and stopping the car is the safest option. After my tragic accident I am a firm believer in speaking of this issue to make others stop texting and driving. I want others to learn from my story, without having to learn the hard way like I did.