Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AUGUSTA - Take out your wireless device and read the last text message you sent or received.
Want to send a message to a friend? How about, I'm txting u whl waiting 4 the troopr 2 giv me a tkt ?
The Associated Press
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
State Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, is the author of L.D. 736, “An Act to Prohibit Texting and Driving.” Owen Smith is AT&T’s regional vice president for Maine.
Now ask yourself: Was the message so urgent that it was worth putting your life and the lives of those around you at risk? The answer is almost certainly no.
Cell phones, smart phones, and other wireless devices have become an integral part of daily life for Americans of all ages. According to a recent survey by the CTIA, the Wireless Association, over 285 million Americans are mobile subscribers -- that is approximately 91 percent of the total population.
Many of these mobile subscribers are active texters, with more joining their ranks every day. In the second quarter of 2010, more than 154 billion text messages crossed AT&T's network, a 43 percent increase from the same time the previous year. In fact, AT&T's network handles 87,000 text messages every five seconds.
Along with the rapid growth in mobile device adoption comes an increased risk that people will use their devices in an unsafe manner. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers face a crash risk or nearcrash risk 23 times greater when texting than when not texting.
Similarly, the American Medical Association has reported that text messaging while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
We only have to look at recent accidents in Maine where texting has resulted in serious injury and death to know these studies are on the mark. Last year, a social worker was killed when traveling on I-95 and texting while she was behind the wheel.
Her car went out of control onto the opposite side of the highway and hit an oncoming news van. The crew walked away with some minor scrapes and bruises, but she did not.
It was an avoidable accident and a senseless loss of life of someone who was dedicated to helping others, but in one crucial second a judgment lapse ended her life.
Texting is fine but getting behind the wheel and texting is not. To deliver that message, we are working together to see that L.D. 736, "An Act to Prohibit Texting and Driving," becomes law here in Maine and to raise public awareness of the dangers of texting and driving.
The legislation would impose a civil fine of $100 if someone is stopped by a police officer who observes a driver texting. We believe this is enough of a fine to get the attention of drivers, and to get people focused on the danger they put themselves and others in while trying to multitask behind the wheel.
This is a commonsense bill and one we hope will become law this year.
In addition, we urge readers to discuss the danger of texting and driving with friends and family -- especially teenage children. To assist with those conversations, AT&T developed the "Txtng & Drivng -- It Can Wait" campaign. Materials include a compelling documentary film called "The Last Text" and a comprehensive online resource center that contains downloadable information, including a parent-teen pledge and a teen-teen pledge, safety tips and more. It can be found on the web at www.att.com/txtingcanwait.
Texting while driving is dangerous. It is a message that we need every Mainer to hear.
- Special to the Press Herald