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Dangers of Texting While Driving

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I was watching the news the other evening (not the same as morning news surfing while on the treadmill) and there was a news segment on texting while driving. We have discussed this issue on the radio show several times. The data surrounding accidents occurring secondarily to texting while driving becomes more alarming each day. In this segment they showed a public service announcement (PSA) that had been shown in Great Britain, which was produced to show the dangers of texting while driving.

The introduction talked about risks of accidents while texting while also discussing how texting is as dangerous, if not more, than drinking and driving. They then showed a clip, which was produced to show teens in a car talking together, while at the same time texting other friends. The simulated PSA then goes on to show the driver being distracted as she answers a text and the ensuing accident involving multiple vehicles. This piece then shows the girls in the car (remember it is a re-enactment, also in slow motion at times) as they are hitting the other cars, being thrown about inside their car. It is so difficult to watch as the girls are catapulted inside the car, into one another, as well as into the windshield and dashboard, and there is blood everywhere. As the piece closes, all of the cars come to a stop and the girls are shown. They slowly realize that they have been in an accident and one of their friends is dead. The entire segment probably lasted no more than a minute, but it may have been one of the most difficult 60 seconds to watch, as it is many parents’ nightmare!

This PSA is not being shown in the U.S. and some parents may think it is too graphic to show to their children. In my opinion, any teen that has a phone and a driver’s permit/license should be required to watch this, and younger teens may need to watch this too.  There have been fatal accidents involving trains, and buses all secondary to the driver texting while on the job. The statistics continue to show an alarming number of accidents due to driver inattention due to texting. My son has a friend whose precious sister was recently killed in an accident that is thought to be due to the fact that she was texting while driving. There were no drugs, or alcohol and she had on her seat belt. It occurred on a beautiful morning without rain or fog but she crossed the median while driving. The rest of the story is tragic.

We have all become addicted to our phones, and Blackberry’s. There is NOTHING so important that it cannot wait until we have stopped the car. Not a business meeting, call from home or teen party or rendezvous that needs to be instantly answered. The only job we need to have while driving is to focus on driving. I am continually reminding myself of this, as I feel my Blackberry vibrate while I drive. I have to resist the urge to look. Maybe it is better to just turn it off while in the car. We all managed to function without instant communication for a long time.  Life went on.

If you haven’t seen this, watch it with your teens. Make a point of reiterating the dangers of texting while driving. Have them turn off their phones in the car. It is too bad we can’t have a device that will turn the phones off when we start the car, and make us ALL resist the urge to be in constant communication. Turn on the music; it is less distracting than a phone!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

More Information: Public Service Announcement (WARNING: This is a dramatization, containing realistic graphic material)

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