Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation say distracted driving has become “a dangerous epidemic” on America’s highways. Federal statistics indicate that 3,328 Americans were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2012.
One of the leading causes of these crashes is texting while driving. Despite a number of public awareness campaigns aimed at discouraging texting and driving, many Americans continue engaging in this dangerous practice.
A recent study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found two out of 10 drivers admit they have texted while driving. A majority of that number are teenagers and young adults.
And a report from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention found 31 percent of drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
According to a CDC study that analyzed self-reported data from the 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, texting while driving is also linked with drinking and driving or riding with someone who has been drinking among high school students in the United States.
Tennessee has a law expressly prohibiting drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel of a moving car. The law carries a $50 fine and an additional $10 for court costs. It is a non-moving offense, which means no points will be added to the offender’s driving record. For this reason, the law lacks teeth.
We want to hear from you. Do you text while driving? If so, tell us why. Is the message really that important?
Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification purposes. We will print responses on the Opinion pages soon.