The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has just released a report that shows 58 percent of high school seniors admit that they have texted while driving within the last month. The news comes days after a Massachusetts teenager was sentenced to two years in jail and a loss of his license for 15 years after a jury found him guilty of motor vehicle homicide. Prosecutors said the 18-year old was texting when his car swerved across the center line of street, smashed into a truck and killed the other driver.
It's a crime to text and drive in Massachusetts, Georgia and 37 other states. Public Policy Assistant Professor Robert Rosenberger isn't surprised people ignore the law.
Texting-while-driving has been outlawed here in Georgia since 2010 and violators are charged with a fine of $150. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones of any sort while behind the wheel.
It may be tempting for drivers to approach the texting ban in terms of a simple cost-benefit analysis: is texting while behind the wheel worth the possibility of the fine? My guess is that for many of us, the answer would be “yes.” For many people, the ability to send and receive texts while driving, staying connected with the world and finding some entertainment within the often boring confinements of the car will be worth the gamble of 150 bucks.
But tragedies like the collision in Massachusetts remind us that the equation is not that simple. Despite the ordinariness of driving, despite the everydayness of the morning commute, despite how commonplace it feels to sit behind the wheel, it’s important to always remember that people’s lives are at risk. Sending and reading text messages while driving - and also, for that matter, talking on a handheld or hands-free phone - are things that strongly and dangerously pull drivers’ attention away from the road.
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