Texting While Driving, A Lethal Mixture In 5 Seconds
By TLB Contributor: Ken LaRive
Estimations by Lafayette Police officers indicate that on any given day, on any Louisiana highway, one out of every three drivers are distracted for some reason, at any given time. That means, when you pass three cars driving in the right lane, one of them does not have his full attention on driving. Some are unwrapping a hamburger, trying to find the ketchup in to-go bag, or rummaging for a lipstick from an overflowing purse… and some are so tired they yawn with their eyes closed. The average yawn is five seconds… but all of these distractions pale in comparison to the number one attention diversion found on the modern highway today, texting.
A Libertarian mindset finds many rules cumbersome in a free society, and yet we discover an amazing proportion of people incapable of self-rule. Some seem unable to play a simple “what if” game, where just five seconds can have such an impact on their lives. They can’t seem to comprehend what just five seconds of inattention can have on their lives, their passengers, or that of an innocent person crossing their path. They cannot seem to grasp that anything can happen in such a small amount of time, and fail to understand the simple math of how long, and what distance it takes to register a danger and apply the brakes to stop… Because of this many people die, and so laws are enacted, piled one atop the other, to protect you from yourself.
So, let us look at some facts and information, as given by the car manufacturer, Subaru, whose focus is safety.
1 Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. (2009, VTTI).
2 When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI).
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online] (2012). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer).
4 University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota, November 2012.
5 The 2013 Teen Driving Report, sponsored by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
6 Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
7 U.S. Department of Transportation Survey “Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-crash Incidences.”
8 Data from a 2012 Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD survey of more than 1,700 teens from across the country. The survey found teens exhibit or observe their parents exhibiting the illustrated behavior at least occasionally.
Lead by example.
When explaining these dangers to your children, one must ask yourself first… how will it be accepted? Whatever they have seen you doing will seem the norm to them, and so that old adage: “Do as I say and not as I do” will negate the message to be facetious. Almost half of teen drivers have admitted to have sent and received messages while driving, and that admission is not true by at least 30 percent. One truth, however, is that major studies have shown that texting is almost six times more dangerous than drunk driving… now, let that sink in for a moment, with a viable suggestion on how to approach the subject with them.
Tell them you are sorry, and show this concern with true emotion. Sit with them one on one and open your heart, Tell them that you have been studying the dangers of texting, with an example close to home. So many people are dying, this will be very easy to do. Tell them you are sorry you were texting while they were in the car, that it was an unloving and irresponsible thing to do, and reiterate again, how much you love them. If you are honest, and you take responsibility for you own life and actions, they will emulate that too. Do not lecture. Make the conversation about you and they will listen. Tell them these distractions have become a bad habit, and if they notice you doing it to please warn you.
Once they see it in you, they will see it in themselves, and from there they will recognize it in their friends’ parents as well, like in a car pool, for instance, another dangerous distraction. They will see it in their friends, and notice it in other drivers… And yes, there is a flip side to this coin, as your children drive other adults, and their peers, all of which are great distractions, in and of themselves. If you can get them to visualize what life-changing situations can occur in just a small amount of time from your own admitted failings, perhaps they will return home to you safely.