WALKING TOWARD THE SUN: Texting & driving; no LOL-ing matter

June 24, 2010

by Emily LaFleur

Screech…slam…bam! It all happened in that order or at least that is how I remembered it.

As I left Dallas last Sunday morning, pondering over all the items on my to-do list, I suddenly felt myself and car spinning in a whirlwind I had no clue when or how would end- the scariest moment of my life to say the least.

My first flat tire experience is one I will never forget, yet never want to forget.

After the shock wore off from last Sunday’s accident which involved me losing control of my car and hitting the guardrail alongside Interstate 635 in Dallas I found myself consumed in the “what ifs.” What if I had not been in the right lane and created a huge pile up causing injury to others and myself? What if my failure to maintain control caused a death?

One thought in particular could have predictably been a possibility. How would I have reacted to the blowout and losing control if I had been talking on my cell phone or, even worse, texting and driving? Realizing how lucky I was, I began to recall a celebrity’s recent efforts promoting safer driving.

Oprah Winfrey’s new movement has caught much attention as she initiated the first ever National No Phone Zone Day on April 30. Winfrey has managed to pull at America’s heart strings as she features friends and families who have lost a loved one due to a car accident involving cell phone usage on her weekday talk show, noting that many of these fatal accidents could have been prevented.

Celebrities and various companies have jumped on this No Phone Zone bandwagon by signing the No Phone Zone pledge accessible on Winfrey’s website.

There are three different pledge options all promising no texting and driving, and the other two state one will use hands free device when making a call or pull off the road to make a call.

As cellular devices have become more popular than ever, I think it is time that the risks associated with driving and cell phone usage become well-known as well. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, cell phone usage among drivers makes drivers four times as likely to get into a crash.

You, as well as I, have probably texted while driving at least once in the past month. Effective Aug. 15, if caught texting and driving Louisiana, motorists will face a primary offense up to $175 and a fine up to $500 for second and following offenses.

The new text banning law is similar to the previous passed in 2008, but the new one allows police to pull drivers over directly suspected of texting. I hope it is not na’ve to believe that Americans can learn and practice safe driving. Sometimes you just have to say or text “ttyl.”

Emily LaFleur is a senior journalism major from Lake Charles who serves as associate editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to edl003@latech.edu.