Fatal attraction: texting while driving


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Rebecca Saenz

“Lol hey can’t text u rn—” WHAM! Not only does the collision whip the phone from your palm, it also totals your car and kills the driver in the oncoming vehicle. As your trial pends, you learn that the victim was on her way to pick up her two children at an elementary school. In court, the intersection footage shows you were oblivious to the red light as you plow directly into the other driver’s car.

Because pedestrian witnesses saw you texting, the court charges you with criminally negligent homicide, and now you will go to prison instead of class. That text message amounted to one full coffin, one mourning husband, two young children without a mom and one new inmate in the state penitentiary.

Did I scare you? I hope so. This is the kind of grim hypothetical situation no one wants to think about, but it snaps us out of complacency. Research from King’s College in Pennsylvania uncovered that 80 percent of college students text and drive. Evidently, intellects worthy of university admittance can still exercise bad judgment. Yet the science shows that no one can effectively text and drive, regardless of experience level. When you must choose between watching the road and watching a screen, watch the road.

The increased risk alone is mind-boggling. Texting while driving impairs an individual as much as chemical intoxication and is six times more dangerous than driving drunk according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Department of Motor Vehicles cites that a quarter of all crashes involve cell phone use and a state study in Texas revealed that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than non-texting drivers. Risk is the invisible factor, but it’s the overwhelming body count that chills.

Texting and driving is the new serial killer among traffic accident statistics. Moreover, due to the now-felonious nature of texting and driving, the National Safety Council (NSC) concluded that most figures are under reported. The NSC attributes about 1.6 million crashes a year to cell phone usage. A Harvard study reports that texting while driving causes around 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries annually. But accidents by age demographic are lamentably disproportionate.

Texting and driving fatalities are highest among teens and young adults, accounting for nine to 11 teen driver deaths every day and making it the official number one killer of teens. But don’t be fooled by the age group: texting and driving transfers college students from classrooms to caskets as well.

To be explicitly clear: don’t text and drive! It’s illegal and immoral, subjecting you and others to potentially catastrophic consequences. Often, it’s a good person making a bad decision, but preventing a death is always better than apologizing for one. We all know better. If you text and drive, quit now before you kill someone or yourself. The entreaty is universal, the impairment is scientifically measurable and the body bags are countable. Nobody can be trusted to use a cell phone and drive a car at the same time. No text is worth it.