Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Texting while driving is still a danger on the road

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill on Tuesday that will make “texting and driving” a secondary offense. That means that police can give you a ticket for the new offense only if they stop you for another infraction. It’s a start but I would have preferred it to be a primary offense. The same thing happened with the seatbelt law: It took them years and lots of death on the highway before they changed it to a primary offense, but this is better than nothing. And there is always next year.

Below you will find information from Kelly Layne Starling from our partner AT&T, which I think is super-important, especially for parents with teens who are driving . I am glad that all providers have come together to make a difference in handling this situation of “texting and driving.”

AT&T, which has already reached millions of people through its “ It Can Wait” campaign, announced that Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile and more than 200 organizations are joining the movement to end texting while driving, a habit involved in more than 100,000 car accidents a year, according to the National Safety Council, and makes drivers 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck. The “It Can Wait” campaign culminates in a national day of action on Sept. 19, encouraging everyone to get out in their community and advocate involvement on behalf of the movement.

The summer-long initiative kicks off on May 20 and will be supported by a new national advertising campaign featuring people who are living with the consequences of texting while driving, a large-scale nationwide texting-while-driving simulator tour, major retail presence in tens of thousands of stores, and more. The campaign, aimed at educating drivers to change behaviors that will ultimately help save lives, will run between Memorial Day and Labor Day, deemed by AAA as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. Furthermore, according to this recent study, texting-while-driving is now the leading cause of death for teen drivers, surpassing the number of teen deaths related to driving under the influence.

But texting while driving extends beyond just teens. A recent AT&T survey on the behavior of commuters found that nearly all commuters polled agreed that sending a text or email while driving isn’t safe, yet nearly half of them admitted to texting while driving. And 43 percent of those who said they text and drive characterizing the act as a “habit.” The survey found that commuters are also texting and driving even more than teens – 49 percent, compared to 43 percent.

Through the “It Can Wait” movement, more than 1.5 million pledges to never text and drive have been made and thousands of people have had hands-on experience with driving simulators that make clear the dangers of texting while driving. Head to att.com/itcanwait to use an online simulator, hear stories from victims of texting while driving, view a riveting documentary “The Last Text,” and find information on AT&T’s DriveMode app for Android and BlackBerry phones that can automatically disable texting when the phone is traveling more than 25 mph in a vehicle.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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