Imagine a person driving in a car down the road and all of the sudden the car coming the other direction swerves and hits a person head on. The victim of the crash probably thinks the other driver was intoxicated in some way, but that person was texting while driving. This shows that sometimes people drive as badly when they are texting while driving as when they’re intoxicated. I had a personal experience of this kind. The author of this article had a friend who was driving down a country road texting while driving. He swerved left of center and hit a box truck head on and died instantly. Everyone in high school at the time knew him so it was quite devastating to the entire student body. There were grief counselors on site for a couple weeks after he passed away. This incident shows how a simple act can instantly affect everyone so quickly. There are more and more texting while driving injuries and deaths happening every day. A lot of these injuries and deaths are in states with lenient texting while driving laws. If communities in the states with these lenient laws helped raise awareness, people may think twice before texting while driving and also raising awareness could possibly lead to the chance to change some laws.
Some people believe texting while driving laws make people have to hide their texting behind the wheel, thus making it more dangerous (Masnick, 2012). Regardless of opinions, studies show that there is a significant difference in the number of violations between states with lenient laws and states with strict laws (Masnick, 2012). Texting while driving laws are not strict enough in certain states, making citizens of those states not take texting while driving laws serious, which could possibly cause more accidents and even death. The purpose of this proposal on texting while driving laws is to convince readers that texting while driving laws need to be stricter in certain states to help cut back on accidents and death due to texting while driving. Though I am a novice scholar, I will include several sources that will establish my credibility regarding texting while driving laws. The ideas of Masnick (2012), Elliot (2010), and United States Department of Transportation (2014) will be used in this paper to help establish my credibility. There are people who have an argument for texting while driving. Some people believe that texting while driving laws are actually making people have to hide their texting behind the wheel, thus making it more dangerous.
In an article by Masnick (2012), he discussed some studies showing that states that have anti-texting laws saw an increase in accidents compared to nearby states that had no such ban. California has recently legalized some forms of texting while driving such as Bluetooth. With California passing this law, lawmakers are dealing with a lot of confusion over the new rules (Masnick, 2012). Even with the opposing side’s statistics, studies also show, that there is a significant difference between states with lenient laws and states with strict laws in relation to the number of violations in those states. According to an article by Elliot (2010), states in the west have a high number of texting while driving violations and accidents and their fines are low for the violation. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2008, the most recent year with complete data, 2.1 percent of people in the west were recorded using a hand-held device while driving, compared to just .4 percent in the Northeast and .8 percent in the Midwest. In the east, New Hampshire has a strict ban on texting while driving and on distracted driving in general (Elliot, 2010). In New Hampshire, a driver cannot be caught eating, applying makeup, talking on the phone, or engage in any other form of distracted driving (Elliot, 2010). It seems that states on the east coast have taken a more innovative approach to texting while driving laws.
For example, Washington D.C. has had its ban in place since 2004 and has handed out 42,000tickets and has seen a 43 percent decrease in texting while driving usage (Elliot, 2010). There are some states that are trying to raise more awareness for texting while driving. Raising awareness, to me, is one of the key ways for people of the community to help make a difference. For example, the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT, 2014), launched its first ever distracted driving enforcement and advertising campaign. This campaign not only had marketing and advertising involved, but it also the first ever national distracted driving high-visibility enforcement (HVE) crackdown. The HVE allows law enforcement to share innovative strategies to help catch people texting while driving. This campaign was so successful, that during its run, it helped California issue 10,700 tickets for texting while driving. The campaign also helped drop California’s observed hand held use from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent and in Delaware from 4.5 percent to 3 percent (U.S. DOT, 2014). Texting while driving is a serious offense, but it is hard to make people realize how serious of an offense it is if the punishments are pocket change.
Whether people believe texting while driving laws are good or bad, there are a lot of accidents occurring everyday due to texting while driving. Some states are trying to raise awareness, but there needs to be a stronger presence of anti-texting awareness while driving in this nation. To try to get people to stop texting while driving, communities need to come together and help raise awareness. Communities with a low amount of awareness can really benefit from this. People will see it as being a new thing in town and the idea of not texting while driving may stick in their minds better. This approach to solving the problem is going to be very effective on the small town scale. The “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” Campaign put on by the U.S. Department of Transportation is an example of an effective ad campaign for raising awareness for texting while driving. This catch phrase is very easy to remember and is also very appealing to the younger generation. This ad campaign shows that the government is concerned about the texting while driving epidemic. If this solution of raising awareness is done in the right cities, by the right people; it can be a special and life-changing movement. The people involved need to be passionate about the topic.
These people are usually people who were affected by texting while driving. These are the people needed to raise awareness. These people will show a passion for the topic that will lure people in. This solution is better than any other solution out there because the passion behind it. There are billboards and commercials, but those items of propaganda are not as alluring as someone showing raw passion for a topic. The people who show raw passion for texting while driving awareness can go out into the community and get the message out. The major step needed to be taken is getting people who have been affected by texting while driving to help raise awareness and talk about their experiences. This can be difficult at times because sometimes those people had a tragic experience and they do not wish to discuss it to groups of people. Once there are a good number of people willing to talk about their experiences, then the group needs to get a sponsor to help with finances, then get some reading material to distribute. After that, the group can set up dates with local public places to give speeches and help raise awareness. With all of this put into play, the outcome can be outstanding. The people in the group need to be able to get people’s attention and keep them captivated. Also, the group needs to be able to support themselves financially. These types of groups could someday change laws within their states if the group can spread awareness enough.
There are many benefits to raising awareness for texting while driving. The goal of raising awareness is so people will think twice about texting while driving. Raising awareness also helps persuade laws to be changed. The biggest resource needed to start in a single town is a sponsor. Unless a member of the group is going to front the bill, there is no other way to pay for materials. The group will need reading materials and items with the group slogan on it. This plan is worthwhile because it could save a life. No matter how much money or time that would be put into the awareness group, it would never outweigh the possibility of saving a life. Starting up the awareness group will cost very little on a small scale, and depending on how well the group does in the beginning, the group could grow tremendously.
This solution is the best solution for your average citizen. It is not costly to start and the people involved need to have some sort of passion for the subject of texting while driving. The group members must also be willing to dedicate time to the cause. If this criteria can be met, big changes can be made. Raising awareness can save a life. Someone could remember the group slogan and decide to not answer that text message, thus preventing an accident. Anyone who is willing to dedicate time, a little money, and passion to this cause should get a group of people together and start raising awareness today.
Contact your local city hall for more information on setting up an awareness group or if you would like more general information about texting while driving or setting up an awareness group, email Jessica Daniels [email protected] If you know anyone else interested in starting an awareness group about texting while driving, try to find more people interested and start your own group and save a life today.
Elliot, H. (2010, May). Worst states for distracted drivers. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.alertdriving.com/home/fleet-alert-magazine/ north-america/worst-states-distracted-drivers
Masnick, M. (2012, July 17). California legalizes some texting while driving, sort of. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from https://www.techdirt.com/blog/ wireless/articles/20120716/23515519720/
United States Department of Transportation. (2014, April 3). U.S. Department of Transportation launches first-ever national distracted driving enforcement and advertising campaign. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from http://www.distraction.gov/content/press-release/2014/04-03.html