Staff Editorial: Don’t text, just drive.

NW Staff

It’s a disturbing image to see; the video of a four car accident showing a teenage driver as she watches her two friends die, simultaneously showing passengers in the other cars either seriously injured or dead, including the lifeless blue eyes of a baby.

This is not a scene from a horror movie, but rather a public service announcement (PSA) released by the Gwent police department in Wales. The cause of the accident is a teenage girl texting while driving, causing her to swerve into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Although graphic, the PSA, which had over 4 million views on YouTube, delivers what it promises — the consequences of an undoubtedly dangerous act. These days, texting seems harmless
in the appropriate situation and has become assimilated and accepted into our culture. But by now, we also know that just because it seems harmless doesn’t mean it is.

AAA reports that when polled, 95 percent of drivers said they knew texting while driving was dangerous, but 21 percent did it anyway. A recent Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision than non-texters. The same study also found that a driver’s focus was interrupted for an average of 4.6 seconds while texting; also the time it takes to travel a football field’s length at 55 mph.

When it comes to students, one gory and terrifying PSA may not be enough to conquer this problem, even though it should. What is most frightening is that after viewing this, many of us will still continue to text while driving until we hurt or kill ourselves or someone else.

This has become such an issue that 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws that ban texting for all drivers. While these laws are a strong effort by law enforcement to stop this act, most penalties for texting while driving are tickets or a slap on the wrist, hardly enough to make a person change their behavior. This also happened with seatbelt laws, which many did not comply with until serious fines were in place. Until law enforcement begins seriously enforcing and penalizing people, nothing will change.

Until then, the only guaranteed way to improve safety on the road is by making people take stock in their own lives and the lives of others. Unless everyone makes a conscious decision to pay attention to the road instead of texting, accidents and deaths at the hands of cell phones will continue to rise.