By Dallas Ducar ’10
The temptation begins.
You’re sitting with hands on the wheel in the middle of traffic when you hear the roaring vibration of your phone; in comes a new text message.
It could be your best friend asking to “chill” this weekend, possibly your dad asking in his new hip lingo “wutz up LOL?” or maybe it’s that girl you met last week who is finally texting you back.
The temptation rings through the air again, traffic is backed up and you know it would hardly take any time to send off that reply. So you pick up the phone and begin texting away.
Concentrating on those last couple characters your eyes are drawn off the road and then suddenly it happens. You look up; the driver had stopped too quickly for your reaction and you’ve hit the back of his car.
This is hardly the worst of your problems: Next you have to deal with your insurance rates, repair, points on your license and perhaps worst of all, your parents.
While it may seem as if you, the driver, are the only one in harm’s way when texting while driving, this is certainly not the case.
Incidents where pedestrians fell in harm’s way have even occurred in the Brophy community.
“I was just riding my bike across the crosswalk one day when she straight up hit me,” said Nicholas Shore ’10 about an experience of his own. “I started pedaling when the sign said ‘walk’ … before I knew it a Xavier girl had hit me.”
While Shore was able to recover quickly and remained unscathed, the fact remains that he was hit by someone who was clearly not paying any attention to the road.
“She was going slow, hardly fast enough to hurt me,” Shore said. However, the incident could have been much worse.
According to the National Highway Traffic Association, about 5,000 pedestrians are killed and another 64,000 are injured when hit by a motor vehicle every year.
New studies on texting while driving are mixed but some indicate it only increases the likelihood for accidents.
A study by Human Factors quarterly journal column “Car accident law questions and answers” reported that cell phone distraction resulted in around 330,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths in just one year.
Another study by the University of Utah finds texting while driving is as dangerous and deadly as drunk driving because it distracts drivers and reduces response time.
So what is the government doing to regulate cell phone usage while driving?
So far 20 states ban usage of a cell phone while driving but only for those under 18. Nineteen states and the District of Colombia have laws addressing texting while for all drivers.
It is against the law to text while driving in the city of Phoenix.
Drivers can be fined up to $250 for each violation. Arizona does not have such a law; however, a bill currently moving through the state legislature would create a statewide ban.
A recent AAA poll found nine out of 10 Arizonans support such a law. The poll also showed respondents ranked texting while driving 9.2 out of 10 on a danger scale, just below drinking and driving.
The Highway Loss Data Institute looked at accident rates before and after cell phone bans took effect in several locations including New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut and California.
This study found that the patterns of month-to-month collision accident claims did not fluctuate before and after cell phone bans took effect.
“Obviously in response to the study you would have to rationally adjust your opinion of the danger of text messaging while driving, but that does not change the fact that texting while driving is certainly more dangerous than not … it’s just a matter of degree,” said Danny Hinzte ’10.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that 50 percent of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are found texting while driving.
Through an informal, non-scientific poll, 21 percent said they text frequently while behind the wheel; 36 percent said occasionally; and 43 percent said they never text while driving.
This problem is not like many others that younger age groups inherit, but instead it is generational.
A study by Nationwide Insurance shows that the generational trend is evident, with 37 percent of people from ages 18 to 27 admitting they text while driving.
Meanwhile, only 14 percent of people from ages 28 to 44 have been involved in accidents while texting and only two percent of drivers ages 45 to 60 admitted to it.
“It’s not that it’s a problem to text while you are stopped like at a red light for example, but texting while you are driving is a bad idea and could put others, such as pedestrians, in danger,” said Kyle Nilsen ’10.