Texting and driving

On August 16, 2010, famous plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan was using his phone to send a message to his Twitter account about his dog.  He lived on a winding road in Malibu and because the texting was taking more attention than his driving, he drove over one of the cliffs.  He was considered to be one of the best plastic surgeons in the business and his passing blanketed the media for days as he was the one who famously “enhanced” reality TV star Heidi Montag.  He had also been on several TV shows discussing plastic surgery and explaining to the mass media what BDD is (Body Dysmorphic Disorder – people obsessed with changing their appearance and thinking there is always some sort of defect to their appearance).
 
While his passing was tragic, it also teaches us all how dangerous texting while driving can be.  Texting requires you to usually look at your phone whereas talking on your phone  without a headset causes one hand to not be on the wheel.  Teenage drivers are especially prone to distracted driving and have the highest percentage of fatal, distraction-related crashes. Currently 800,000 people in the U.S. are driving while operating a cell phone. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 6,000 people die every year because of distracted driving. More than half a million are injured. Most of these accidents could have been avoided. 
 
Being that we are in age of technology and we now have an option of something called Speech to Text.  Some of the newer phones on the market offer a feature that allows you to speak your message, it will then transcribe it for you and send it to your intended recipient!  Cool huh?  It IS a newer technology, meaning it is not on most of the cell-phones on the market.  Certain companies are now offering hands-free devices to consumers, claiming it to be a safer way to use your cell phone. Current research has proven that although hands-free seems to be a little safer; Both hands-free & handheld devices have been proven not safe because they both divert the mind from the task at hand which is driving.  Statistics show driving while using a handheld or hands-free device is just as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent, the legal limit.
 
In January 2009, Oprah Winfrey asked her viewers to make a pledge to make your vehicle a phone-free zone.  The response was over-whelming and to date over 300,000 people have pledged to not text while driving.  After reading the heart-wrenching stories from the families of loved ones whose lives were cut short due to texting while driving, I made the pledge myself.  As humans we have difficulty in multi-tasking and focusing attention on more than one thing at a time.  While some people claim to be fabulous multi-taskers, the bottom line is that they are able to multi-task their time effectively, not multi-task abilities.  So driving and texting are not a good idea because your focus has to be on one or the other. 
 
We can divert these deadly crashes from occurring by simply concentrating on the road and not driving while distracted. Instead of answering your phone while driving, wait until you reach your destination or a rest stop. If the call or text message is urgent you can always just pull your car over and answer. It can save a life.

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