Lure of ‘Texting’ Adds New Dimension of Danger

By  //  March 24, 2013

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PUBLIC SAFETY

ABOVE VIDEO: LOL. OMG…RIP: When you’re driving at 70 mph—covering more than the length of a football field with your eyes off the road—these cute little acronyms can have life-changing or deadly consequences. See the real-life aftermath of texting and driving…and meet the people in the center of the trauma. [CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO]

EDITOR’S NOTE: State Legislature to Vote on HB 13 Bill to Ban Texting While Driving – Florida may join 45 states which have at least a partial ban on texting while driving. The Florida House of Representatives is set to vote on House Bill 13, which would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement officers would need another reason for puling a driver over before issuing a fine of $30. Sponsored by State Rep. Doug Holder, House Bill 13 will mirror Sen. Nancy Deter’s state senate bill (SB 52) which passed with unanimous approval, earlier this month. Similar legislation failed to reach the floor for a vote in previous sessions, but increased bipartisan support from Republicans including Ray Pilon of Sarasota and state Democrats such as Sen. Maria Sachs, along with the AARP’s support have combined to increased the bills odds to reach the floor for a vote. According to the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times survey of 800 Florida voters, distracted driving legislation is supported by 78% of registered Democrats and 66% of Republicans.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Remember a time without cellular phones and wireless internet? The past two decades have seen historic changes in how we communicate and acquire information.

For better or worse, cell phones, lap tops, high-speed internet, and now “smart-phones” and tablet computers have brought the world together in almost unimaginable ways.

The threat of texting behind the wheel is tragically real. Over 5,800 people lost their lives last year due to texting and driving. Sadly younger drivers are those most likely to text and drive. (Shutterstock image)

While the new technologies may make “multi-tasking” possible, the price is often pressure on our ability to focus on specific tasks. One of the most critical tasks of daily living today is driving. There are few things in everyday life that require more focus and concentration than moving over a ton of steel down a road at speeds that were inconceivable only a century ago.

Staying focused on the road has been a concern since the days of Henry Ford and the Model T, but today the lure of text messaging adds a new dimension of danger.

The threat of texting behind the wheel is tragically real. Over 5,800 people lost their lives last year due to texting and driving. Sadly younger drivers are those most likely to text and drive.

The threat of texting behind the wheel is tragically real. Over 5,800 people lost their lives last year due to texting and driving. Sadly younger drivers are those most likely to text and drive.

Surveys have indicated that while over a quarter of mobile phone users have texted while driving, that includes nearly half of all drivers in their 20s. Most worrisome of all, three in five teenagers reported that they have texted while driving.

Perhaps no rule is more important than keeping your “eye on the road.” Texting lures an individual to look away from the road, making it one of the most dangerous distractions of all behind the wheel.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, texting and driving makes one up to 20 times more likely to be involved in a car crash. A recent University of Utah study tested a driver’s ability to text and drive in a simulator. Not surprisingly, texting and driving led to slower response times and a higher rate of crashes.

Dedicated To Saving Lives

The Trauma Center at Holmes Regional Medical Centerall too often sees the tragic results of distracted driving. The Space Coast’s only Trauma Center is dedicated to saving and improving lives in our community.

As part of these efforts, Health First, a locally based health care organization with deep community roots, is leading a major multimedia campaign to highlight the dangers of texting and driving. Events have included a distracted driving demonstration along with public service announcements on radio and in print.

The Trauma Center at Holmes Regional all too often sees the tragic results of distracted driving. The Space Coast’s only Trauma Center is dedicated to saving and improving lives in our community.

The goal of this campaign is to educate on how this seemingly harmless activity can bring real danger into our everyday lives. Avoiding the temptation of texting and driving can be a life or death decision. All of us need to remember that the primary focus of any driver should be the road before them.

Texting, chatting on the phone or checking email should only be done when a car is safely parked, or not at all. If you are having trouble resisting the temptation, try putting your cell phone in the glove compartment. Out of sight very often means out of mind, and in this case can lead to a much safer drive.

Parents of teenage drivers should be especially aware of the risks related to texting and driving. Teaching and demonstrating good habits to the youngest drivers can avert tragedy for a lifetime.

Families should talk about the dangers of texting and driving and set clear guidelines as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior behind the wheel. Above all, we should all remember to set an example to others by not engaging in texting and driving ourselves.

For many, texting can be both a fun and useful way to stay in touch. However, the opportunities to stay connected by texting should never be at the price of our own safety and those of others with whom we share the road.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Peter Pappas

Dr. Peter Pappas MD is a Trauma Surgeon with the Trauma Center at Holmes Regional Medical Center.  Originally from Orlando, Dr. Pappas underwent medical school and General Surgery residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and completed fellowship in Surgical Critical Care and Trauma at Orlando Regional Medical Center.  He is board certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and has an active interest in research, education and injury prevention.


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