Reflections! Do You Text While Driving?

Do You Text While Driving?
By William L. Bulla

Do you text while driving? Well, you better stop doing it. You can text message or drive, but you should not be doing both at the same time. In fact it is against the law.
I have asked numerous teens and adults if they had heard about this law, and I was amazed at the number that didn't know about it.
October 1, 2009, a statewide ban on texting while driving went into effect in Maryland. The Maryland General Assembly passed the ban into law last spring, which prohibits writing or sending text messages using mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle in the state. Violators will be guilty of a misdemeanor and could receive a maximum fine of $500.00. Neighboring state of Virginia and the District of Columbia also have Driving While Texting (DWT) laws.
I asked the question, "Do you text while driving?" because I have observed people doing it. And we can't blame it all on the teens.
During our February snow period I observe an adult female holding the steering wheel with her right hand, while holding her cell phone in her left hand and using her thumb to text. While doing this, her car drifted toward the curb where she sideswiped a snow bank. She dropped the cell phone and grabbed the wheel with both hands and managed to avert an accident.
Driver distraction is one of the leading causes for motor vehicle accidents. One of the fastest growing and most problematic of driver distractions is text messaging. Numerous studies in recent years have linked auto accidents to text messaging and cell phone use. In January 2009, the National Safety Council urged state and federal lawmakers to ban the use of cell phones and other text-messaging devices while driving. Over 20-states have responded. The federal government recently issued a texting while driving ban to all commercial truck drivers and bus drivers. The fine will be up to $2,750.00.
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that reading a text takes drivers an average of 4.6 seconds. In that time, driving at around 55 MPH, a car can travel the length of a football field. When people text while behind the wheel, they are focusing their eyes and attention on something other than their driving. Some studies say it can be more dangerous that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Can you imagine what a disaster might occur if the driver would be on one of those while texting?
I urge everyone to remind those they love to refrain from texting while driving. And, you can set a good example for them by not doing it yours.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.