A new, graphic public service announcement (PSA) is bringing attention to the dangers of texting while driving.
Even though the video was produced by the Gwent Police Department in Wales, a five minute clip of the larger 30-minute film has been put on YouTube and has been watched by thousands across the globe. On one of the many YouTube accounts the video is posted on, it has been watched almost a million times.
“I think that it’s very realistic,” said freshman Katie Jacobs, a pre-med major. “Technology has become more and more of a distraction for teens, and texting while driving is just adding to the accidents.”
The video, developed by Peter Watkins-Hughes, has become famous recently for its visceral, no-nonsense depiction of a car accident related to texting and driving. The video shows three young women in a car laughing and talking about boys.
The driver writes a text message to a young man her friend is interested in, and as she looks for the number to send the message to, the car swerves into oncoming traffic. For the next three minutes of the video, the viewer sees a vicious car accident that results in the death of at least four people.
Jacobs said she felt there should be more education on the topic of texting while driving, much like the PSA developed by the Gwent Police Department.
“I think that if they teach you not to talk on the cell phone and drive, they should also teach you not to text and drive,” Jacobs said. “They should show high schoolers that video because I think it’d make a big impact on them to realize they could kill innocent people with the flip of their phone.”
Texting while driving is becoming a huge issue in the United States. Eighteen different states and the District of Columbia currently ban texting while driving.
A survey released by cell phone application vendor Vlingo in the spring of this year found that 26 percent of cell phone users text while driving.
According to the Michigan State Medical Society, drivers are six times more likely to cause an accident while texting and driving.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has found that distraction caused by cell phone usage results in over 260,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year.
Jacobs said that after an incident involving texting and driving happened to her, she’d never text and drive again.
“I used to try and text while I drove, because I had a different cell phone and it was easier,” Jacobs said. “But one time while I was texting and driving, my younger brother was in the car. I was texting and he was playing with the radio and I slowly started to swerve into oncoming traffic. If there was a car that had been closer, I could’ve killed my little brother and myself. And that was a reality check for me.”
Sgt. Don Peterman, Crime Prevention and Community Policing Specialist at Pubic Safety and Police Services, said that while it is hard to get specifics on text messaging while driving in Marquette, it is still a serious issue.
“I think that in my own personal opinion there should be a state law against text messaging,” said Peterman. “I don’t think young drivers have the experience they need to take their attention away from the road.”
Peterman said that it is important to remember how quickly a car travels before you think about texting.
“If you’re driving 70 miles an hour, you’re driving 105 feet per second,” said Peterman. “What can happen in that much time? I mean, anything at all. It’s very dangerous.”
Peterman said he feels texting is a huge problem that affects everyone.
“Once on my motorcycle, I was almost run off the road by a girl who was texting,” said Peterman. “Her car started moving over, I looked up and she was texting at 70 mile per hour. If I had been driving a car, she would’ve hit me. It didn’t seem to even faze her.”
Because texting while driving is such a new occurrence, most figures and statistics on the subject refer to talking on a cell phone, rather than text messaging. But Peterman said that text messaging is even worse than talking on a cell phone because a driver must look down and away from the road to type.
“They’re saying it’s as dangerous as driving impaired. If you’re not going to go out and drink and drive, then maybe you should reconsider texting, because it’s just as bad,” said Peterman.