Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Text Messaging and Driving - A Deadly Combination

A mobile phone is a great convenience and nearly a necessity for today's busy lifestyle. It can also provide safety and security, allowing you to call for help in an emergency. But there are times when it should be turned off and safely put away.

Please don't use your cellphone while driving. Let your voicemail pick up any calls and take a message. Likewise, if you need to place a call, such as to report a dangerous situation on the road, pull over and stop first, or have your passenger use the phone. Talking on your phone while driving takes your attention off the road. Part of your mind is preoccupied by what you are talking about, plus the other person doesn't know when you need your full concentration to react to conditions.

The most foolish thing you can do with a cell phone while driving is to play a game or use text messaging. Talking just takes your mind off the road. Texting takes your mind and eyes off the road and your hand off the wheel! At that point, you are just a passenger who expects your car to drive itself, which it cannot do.

When you play video games on your computer, PSP or whatever, I'll bet you give it your full concentration. You don't try to do your homework, watch TV or carry on much of a conversation while playing, do you? You probably won't even look up when someone tries to talk to you.

Well, driving is at least as demanding as today's video games. If you get distracted during a game, you can lose points or your avatar may die. You may think it's a disaster, but you can just reset, start a new game and be back to normal. Real life isn't so simple. If your attention is diverted while steering more than a ton of steel down the road, you could kill yourself, your passenger or a totally innocent stranger. A second or two of inattentiveness can change your life forever. One stupid moment of driving distracted can leave you crippled for life, or your future will be effectively ended because you'll be spending it in the penitentiary. Even if you escape injury and aren't sent to prison, you will still have to live with the knowledge of the damage you have caused and the lives you've changed.

Driving is a privilege. Take it seriously. Leaving the cell phone off while driving will get you many more years of happy talking and texting. And isn't that what we all want?

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