Text messaging while driving has become a daily distraction for a generation of drivers hooked on instant communication…and a menace to others on the road.
Last year, heather Hurd, 26, and Stephanie Phills, 37, died when a truck driver, reaching for his hand-held device to text hist office, rammed into traffic at a stoplight on U.S. 27 in Central Florida, causing a 10-car pileup, police said. The driver was cited for careless driving, a noncriminal offense that carries a $500 fine.
In may, a truant Tampa, Fla., high school student slammed into a patrol car while texting. She caused $3,000 in damage but no injuries.
In New York, texting is considered the likely cause of a crash that killed five cheerleaders last year. And in April, a California woman was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a woman in a car accident…caused by texting while driving.
This reckless behavior, is by no means, an isolated problem.
In a previously unreleased report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed last month that in 2002 there were 955 deaths and 240,000 crashes attributable to drivers using cellphones – either texting or talking. That was before texting became a true phenomenon.
This past week, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reported that texting while driving is 23 times more dangerous than driving fully alert.
There are 14 states that make it illegal to send a text message while driving, but Florida isn’t one of them. State Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota filed a bill recently to make it illegal to read or type on any mobile device while behind the wheel in Florida.
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