San Antonio City Council voted unanimously Nov. 6 to adopt a hands-free ordinance to limit drivers’ cellphone use. Drivers will still be allowed to dial and answer calls, but must talk on speaker or use a hands-free device. The city already prohibits drivers from using phones for anything other than talking.
While texting and driving is generally frowned upon, it is not illegal in the entire state of Texas. These laws vary from city to city. It is illegal for drivers to text if they have had a learner’s permit for six months or less, are under 18 years old, operate a school bus with kids on it or are in a school zone.
The California Office of Traffic Safety did a study that revealed texting or reading a text typically takes about 4.6 seconds. If you’re driving 55 mph, that is more than enough time to drive the length of a football field blindfolded. As horrifying as that statistic is, it is even scarier when on the highway and realizing many drivers next to you on the highway do it.
One of the reasons legislation to ban all texting and driving has failed in Texas is because the law would be hard to enforce. Even in San Antonio, where it is soon to be illegal to hold a phone, people can still dial and answer calls. Should someone get pulled over for texting, they could easily say they were dialing a number.
The ban, though it has holes, is still a step in the right direction. If the threat of a $200 fine only stops a handful of people from texting while driving, that is still fewer people attempting to blindly drive the length of a football field.
Based on the public’s general disregard for speed limits, it is safe to assume that even if phones were banned while driving, people would still use them. It is a near-impossible task to eradicate texting and driving. Technological advancements, such as voice to text and Bluetooth in cars, make it more feasible. However, not everyone has the latest greatest. The only real solution is to stop and encourage other to stop.
Texting while driving is not worth the risk. The problem arises when we feel comfortable doing it. Some people don’t even find it dangerous anymore. Practice makes perfect is not the case with texting and driving. Even if you can text without glancing at the phone once, you are not 100 percent focused on the road ahead. If texting is absolutely necessary in a situation, pull over and then text.
According to the National Safety Council, drivers texting was a contributing factor in more than 1,000 Texas crashes. The council also states, “talking on a cell phone while driving makes you four times more likely to crash, and texting while driving increases your chances of a crash by up to eight to 23 times.”
In this age, it can be hard to put the phone away. However, if we consider the risk we our putting ourselves and others in, hopefully it will not be as difficult to say TTYL to texting while driving.