When will we learn?

Tuesday April 2, 2013

Keep your eyes on the road.

It seems like a simple request -- make that instruction -- when taking control of a several-ton vehicle. After all, you’re not only taking your own life in your hands, but all the others that share the road with you.

That’s what makes a recent study from AT&T so troubling.

While everyone assumes it’s teenagers who are the most egregious offenders when it comes to texting and driving, the new survey shows that adults are more likely to be driving distracted.

Nearly half of all adults surveyed -- 49 percent -- said that they text and drive. And they do so even while acknowledging that the habit is dangerous. What’s worse is that it’s a trend on the rise.

According to a report by The Washington Post, "Six out of 10 drivers said they never texted behind the wheel just three years ago." The top reasons given for distracted driving include staying productive and feeling connected.

Well, that’s certainly a testament to the daily grind folks find themselves in these days.

The Washington Post report continues: "The survey on teens provided a bit more data on why young people choose to text and drive. One reason is that most text-message users, the survey said, expect a reply within five minutes or less -- 48 percent of teens said they expect a response right away once they fire off a text message."

If you’re looking for any positives to take away from the survey, consider this: Parents’ behavior, it was found, had a noticeable influence on their children’s actions. That means make it a family rule to not text and drive. And perhaps a limit on daily texts or rules on what time these exchanges take place would be good ideas.

Many states, including Vermont, have already drafted and enforced some form of texting laws. Here in the Green Mountain State, the "texting law" took effect June 1, 2010. It states that all drivers are prohibited from texting while operating a moving motor vehicle on a highway, and that only drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from other use of portable electronic devices.

We all know it’s dangerous. Then again, we all know drinking and driving is dangerous, but look at how many people are still prosecuted for that each year.

We think the current rules are a good start, but could be stricter. Penalties should be more severe for those who cause accidents because of distracted driving. Besides that, education is key. Adults need to start acting like adults and being safe behind the wheel. Parents should set the example and create rules in their families to instill safe driving habits.

Will it solve the problem? Maybe not. But it will start us on the safer path.


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