Years ago, if someone had told us that in 2015 it would be fairly common for people to type and drive simultaneously, we would have been aghast that this act was possible, not to mention extraordinarily dangerous. Indeed, thanks to the proliferation of cell phones, it is now possible to do just that, except that it is now called texting. Most teens text many, many times per day and, when they get behind the wheel of a car, they find it difficult to refrain from texting or responding to messages. Sending and receiving texts can prevent the teen from placing their entire focus on driving and paying attention to traffic.
Perhaps there is an element of “it can never happen to me” on the part of teens who text and drive. Unfortunately, the sad fact is accidents happen. Liz Marks was a popular high school senior looking forward prom, graduation and her 18th birthday. Liz was driving and received a text message from her mom. While reading the message, Liz became involved in a traffic accident that left her with a severe brain injury. She had to relearn how to walk, talk, read and write. She is now blind in one eye, cannot smell, cannot hear very well and is unable to produce tears. She has a large scar from her left eyebrow to her forehead and her left eye is permanently damaged.
Liz said she ignored the warnings about texting and driving because everyone else her age was doing it. She said seeing other people texting while driving, including adults, made her think it was OK.
Online Schools made a survey that showed 55 percent of young adult drivers said it was easy to text and drive, while 34 percent of teens said they have texted while behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day in the United States, more than nine people are killed and more than a thousand people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. The agency said distracted driving includes activities such as talking on a cell phone, texting and eating.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, currently, 44 states including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned texting and driving.
Janeane Davis, a Philadelphia mother of four makes a point to never use a phone while driving. As an example to her children, Davis turns her phone off when in the car and puts it in a purse located behind the driver’s seat.
Lisa Brodeur of Charlton, Massachusetts visited schools with her 27-year-old son Kyle in tow. Kyle has quadriplegia (paralysis in all four limbs) following a traffic accident when a drunk driver crashed into their family car. Kyle’s father was killed instantly. Brodeur said when she did school presentations, she would put a volunteer student in a body cast, body jacket and wheelchair for two hours. They were to sit and not move and imagine what it was like to be Kyle. Many of the kids would cry. Brodeur wrote the book “A Mother’s Journey” about how her family has been affected by the decision of one impaired driver on a rainy November night more than 15 years ago.
Brodeur says: “It is so important that our young teens and adults know what can happen if they drive impaired. You don’t want a life like my son’s. So much pain and suffering, and 25 surgeries after and many more still to come.”
There is technology afoot to prevent teens from texting while driving. Aegis Mobility has created software that installs directly onto a teen’s phone, tablet or other device. When a teen drives and exceeds ten miles per hour, the software automatically puts the device in safe mode, which prevents the teen from texting, emailing or browsing the Internet.
Company president and CEO Paul Zimmerman said a lot of parents are not aware that the software exists and he’s trying to change that. Iowa is making the software available free of charge to teens up to 17 years old as they apply to get their licenses at the DMV. Other states are showing interest.
Getting to teens as they apply for a driver’s license or receive insurance under their parent’s plan is key. Obviously teens will not want the product; it is up to the parent or parents.
Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a treatment center specifically for the treatment of teen patients. We specialize in the treatment of addiction, mental health disorders and behavioral problems. If you would like further information, please call 866-615-7266.
Written by Sovereign Health Group writer, Veronica McNamara