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Texting while driving

The average number of text messages sent per month is 790 by 18- to 24-year-olds.

According to recent studies by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to get into an automobile accident than those who focus on driving without use of a phone. The research shows drivers that were texting were not looking at the road for 4.6 of every 6 seconds. This equals traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph without watching the road.

On Sept. 1, The State of Texas banned the use of cell phones while driving in a school zone. Other states have outlawed or are working to outlaw texting while driving. These states include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Florida.

Florida has a law in effect called “Heather’s Law.” Heather Hurd was killed by a truck driver who crashed into 10 cars while sending a text behind the wheel of his 18-wheeler.

Texting and driving is said to be worse than drinking and driving according to CNBC.com. Car and Driver Magazine tested how long it would take to hit the brakes in various conditions. The conditions were: when sober, legally drunk with .08 blood alcohol level, reading an e-mail, and sending a text. Driving 70 miles per hour on a deserted air strip, Car and Driver editor Eddie Alterman, was slower and slower reacting and braking when e-mailing and texting.

A British Public Safety Announcement was published recently online showing the dangers of texting while driving.

It begins with a group of teenagers driving down the road and having a good time without a care in the world. With one text and the move of a finger, it quickly turns deadly.

The video can be described as graphic, but shows the potential consequences of using a cellular device behind the wheel.

“I think the video really made me realize that it could happen to me, so whoever is texting me or calling me can wait until after I’m done driving somewhere,” student Preston Bishop said.

The video is posted on YouTube and has had over 100,000 views and almost 300 comments.

“When you receive a text message, your mind gets distracted, and this video really drives home,” said Don Martin, Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer.

“It makes me think twice about texting while driving,” said student Maria Cazares. “You may not think it can happen to you. No matter how good of a texter or driver you are, it can still happen.”

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