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Bob Kellar: Whatever you do, don’t text and drive

Live From City Hall

Posted: December 17, 2010 10:23 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

Did you know that an incredible 81 percent of the United States population admits to texting while driving a vehicle, in spite of being well-versed on the many dangers of texting while driving?

With thousands of people either losing their lives or getting severely injured in accidents resulting from distracted driving every year, communities are asking: What can be done to drive home this important message?

A study by Virginia Tech Driving Institute claims that those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to end up in an accident. A comparative study of texting while driving verses drunk-driving statistics published in a leading car magazine revealed that texting while driving is even more dangerous than drunk driving.

Texting while driving death statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reveal that 5,870 people died in car crashes in 2008 alone.

Approximately 28 percent of all crashes in 2008 were caused by drivers in the age group of 18 to 29, who admitted to texting while driving. Sadly, that number continues to grow and is even higher this year.

The popular belief is that the number of teenagers that regularly text while driving is more when compared to adults.
Surprisingly this is just not true. Driving statistics compiled in 2010 by the Pew Research Center revealed that 47 percent
of adults admitted to texting while driving, compared to 34 percent of teenagers.

If this information isn’t enough to shock you into paying better attention behind the wheel, maybe these statistics will:
n Talking on a cell phone causes more than 25 percent of all car accidents.

n One-fifth of experienced adult drivers in the United States send text messages while driving.

n A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Motorists found that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

n According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, drivers talking on cell phones are 18 percent slower to react to brake lights.

n An estimated 44 percent of American drivers now have cell phones in their automobiles.

n Of cell phone users that were surveyed, 85 percent said they use their phones occasionally when driving; 30 percent use their phones while driving on the highway; and 27 percent use them during half or more of the trips they take.

n 84 percent of cell phone users stated that they believe using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of being in an accident.

n The majority of Americans believe that talking on the phone and texting are two of the the most dangerous behaviors that occur behind the wheel. Seriously.

Still, as many as 81 percent of drivers admit to making phone calls while driving.

n Studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400-percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.

The bottom line is this: Responding to a text message, communicating via texting while driving and refusing to use a hands-free device in the car are dangerous behaviors that should never be done. 

Let’s all do everything we can to keep our streets safe and save the mobile devices for our off-road time.

Bob Kellar is a Santa Clarita City Councilmember and can be reached at bkellar@santa-clarita.com. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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