Would it surprise you to know that distracted driving continues to be the leading contributor to motor vehicle crashes throughout the Commonwealth? Although we continue to combat impaired drivers and those who chose not to wear their seatbelts, the distractions within our vehicles are killing Kentuckians more often than anything else. Of all the distractions we face while driving, texting while driving is arguably the most dangerous of them all. Recent studies indicate that a driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.
As you may be aware, a “texting while driving” statute was passed by our Legislature and became effective on July 15, 2010. However, due to a grace period that would allow motorists to become familiar with the law, enforcement action by law enforcement did not begin until January 1, 2011. To underscore the importance of this issue, Governor Beshear signed a proclamation on October 10, 2012, declaring it as a “Don’t Text and Drive Day” in Kentucky.
Studies show that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph a vehicle travels the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds. That is like driving 100 yards – essentially blind.
With the comfort of modern day vehicles, many drivers don’t realize how much ground they are covering at relatively low speeds. Think about this example that I used to give when teaching teenage driving classes: It takes the average human being ¾ of a second to perceive a threat, and another ¾ of a second to react to the threat. This is what actually takes place before our brakes even begin to engage. Keeping that in mind, we are covering 80 feet per second while travelling at 55 miles per hour. Our total stopping distance at that speed on level, dry pavement (including our reaction time) would be 265 feet! Recent studies indicate that a text of approximately 100 characters forces us to take our eyes off the road for over 4 1/2 seconds.
Texting and driving is not just a teenage phenomenon. It is rapidly becoming a problem amongst drivers of all ages. Not only is it against the law, but every time you do it – you take the life of another person in your hands.
For more information on the "It Can Wait" campaign click http://itcanwait.com/