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The fatal lure of texting while driving

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It’s so easy to do, and the need is so urgent. But it’s as dangerous as driving a car with your eyes closed. In fact, it’s nearly identical to driving with your eyes closed. Still, people do it. They text while driving. They don’t understand the danger.

Let me give you an example. My wife and I were at a social event last week. We were talking with a friend, who we’ll call Sarah. Sarah got to the event late and told us how she been driving all too fast to make up for being late, while texting a friend to report her progress. Sure enough, she got pulled over for doing 77 in a 55 m.p.h. zone.

“Sarah, tell me you weren’t texting while driving.”

“Oh, the cop didn’t see me texting.”

She didn’t get it. My jaw dropped. “Sarah, if you were doing 50, you probably covered about a hundred yards in a five second text.”

Actually, I was wrong. If you’re doing 50, you’ll cover 122 yards in five seconds, but Sarah was zipping along at 77, which means she covered 188 yards. Let’s be real clear here. Sarah traveled 188 yards without looking down the road. (Please tell me that causes you alarm.)

“Oh, but I had my cell phone at the top of the steering wheel,” Sarah reassured me, “So I wasn’t looking down.”

Gulp. As if that helps the situation. “Oh, good, so your focal point was less than two feet in front of your nose, instead of down the road. Sarah, you’re either going to kill yourself or someone else.”

The look of bewilderment—and from a very together and intelligent, professional young woman. Yet, for all her business and street smarts, Sarah didn’t get it. Maybe she does now.

Texting while driving is seductive—what’s so bad about taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds?  So too the Sirens in the Odyssey were seductive. The sweet sound of their voices lured sailors to their deaths on rocky shoals, but the Sirens were just Greek mythology. Dying on the highway is real.

What gives me the right to tell a young woman that what she’s doing is dangerous? We don’t let friends drive drunk, do we? What’s the difference?

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Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com

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Discussion

  1. Charles Rodenfels  November 11, 2015

    Nicely done!

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  2. Jeffrey Huson  November 11, 2015

    I am impressed you find texting while driving easy to do, and understand the “lure” of doing so. You must have yourhful genes.

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  3. Robin Lorms  November 11, 2015

    Jack:
    I saw a segment on TV several months ago that centered on what we don’t see due to distractions while driving. They tested several drivers as they listened to music or while they were talking on the phone. All said they could easily multi-task while driving. They could not navigate between orange barrels, missed stop signs and even did not see Disney characters (like a large Mickey Mouse or Goofy) in crosswalks while talking and stopped at a red light. Think how much worse texting is!! I have been guilty of texting while driving and working at eliminating this “deadly” habit. Your article convinces me to stop immediately.
    Thank you.
    Robin

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  4. Matt Schaeffer  November 11, 2015

    Jack, I like how you couched the issue: travelling a certain calculable distance without looking down the road. It is alarming, and persuasive. I’m sure that I’ll use it in a conversation at some point. Thanks. Matt

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  5. John  November 13, 2015

    Jack,
    I wholeheartedly agree with you, but texting is simply one aspect of distracted driving. Is texting any different than trying to change screens on some type of multi-function display in the car? Eating a donut? Or how about looking down to the cup holder to ensure the morning cup of coffee is placed securely in the cup holder after taking that initial sip? Personally, texting is no more distracting than any of these other activities. Face it, all of us are spending more & more time in our vehicles and as such, we want this time to be as useful & productive as we can make it.

    But please, don’t just talk about texting as if it were the only distraction. Frankly, texting is the easiest one to eliminate. Much like you can’t enter anything into your car’s GPS once it starts rolling, APP developers could easily incorporate this feature into our phones. And someday soon, they may have to. Until all our other bad habits change, distracted driving will remain a significant issue. Heck, vehicle manufacturers are now touting the # of and size of cup holders in their advertising. I don’t believe there were any cup holders in our family’s 1958 Buick Roadmaster to distract my dad while driving. Thank you for bringing up the issue. I know I am making a conscious effort to not text & drive. I don’t want to hurt myself. I most certainly don’t want to hurt someone else.

    Thank you
    Johnny

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    • jdaurora@behallaw.com  November 13, 2015

      You’re right. There’s no difference between texting and other distractions, except that perhaps a person is distracted for a longer period of time when texting than when, let’s say, taking a bit of a donut or changing a radio station. To be certain, any distraction is dangerous.

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  6. charlie vitelli  November 30, 2015

    Jack I feel you are right on about the danger of texting. A young lady who did not have someone to tell her the danger ended up running into the back of a truck on 270 by Hilliard. We know many of the family and spent four hours in line for the viewing of Marie Tiberi who had a short life and such super young lady. I tell everyone about the danger of texting and using a cell phone that is not paired to their auto, using it is not worth dyeing for and to possibly take another person’s life. The laws need to crack down on this behavior. Charles Vitelli

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