The trouble with texting

Texting while driving is a voluntary act. Just like choosing to drink and drive, knowingly and selfishly risking yourself and everyone around you, texting while driving is deliberate and dangerous. Now, we all should be prepared for the new, strict laws erupting throughout the nation.


According to the New York Times, studies have shown that driving while on a cell phone and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit for drunk driving, are equally precarious. Texting while driving is at least twice as dangerous.


The law California recently enacted merely fines offenders $20, a weak attempt to scare texters and demeaning to those that have lost loved ones due to distracted drivers.


However, drivers aren't the only ones getting distracted by their cell phones resulting in peril.


According to the New York Daily News, California regulators are banning train operators from using cell phones while working as well. The ban was implemented in reaction to Engineer Robert Sanchez, whose phone records were requested after a deadly crash occurred on his watch in San Fernando Valley.


While many may find such regulations outrageous and uncalled for, as more and more accidents continue to occur across the country, states will be increasingly inclined to make changes.


After a car accident in Utah killed two scientists on account of a college student who was texting while driving, the government is cracking down on texting behind the wheel with a law that took effect in May. Under this law, anyone caught texting while driving will face a misdemeanor charge, up to a $750 fine and up to three months in jail. If they cause injury or death, however, the sentence will grow to a felony, up to a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison.


Alaska has taken a similarly severe approach to distracted drivers, or more specifically, electronically distracted drivers. An accident in 2003 instigated the law, according to the New York Times. A driver killed two motorists while distracted by a video monitor on his dashboard.


Now, if a person is responsible for causing a fatality while a television, video monitor or computer is on inside the vehicle within the driver's vision, the crime is considered a felony and punishable by up to 20 years in prison.


The Senate is attempting to step in on this issue with new legislation forcing states to either ban drivers from texting within two years or sacrifice federal highway funds. So don't get too cozy with the lenient laws of Arizona.


While many would be opposed to their friend drinking alcohol and then driving a motorized vehicle, few understand the risks and consequences correlated with texting while driving.


But drinking while driving and texting while driving are more similar than most would expect.


It is widely acknowledged that with each shot of alcohol or beer that one consumes, one is knowingly and intentionally lowering their ability to drive a vehicle, whether it be due to blurred vision, dizziness or any of alcohol's other short-term effects.  


Likewise, texting while driving is a reckless decision that lessens one's driving ability. Even if one claims to be able to send outgoing texts without looking, texting requires one of the driver's hands to be away from the steering wheel and reading an incoming text averts the driver's eyes from the road, cars and pedestrians surrounding the vehicle.


Even though Arizona has yet to employ harsh laws regarding distractions while driving, the possibility of having a life, or two, on your shoulders is not one worth risking. As college students, we have our entire future in front of us. With one simple text, one little swerve, your future can vanish, replaced by years in prison, hours of community service and a lifetime of guilt.



— Rachel Leavitt is a sophomore majoring in creative writing. She can be reached at

letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


 


Share this article