Texting while driving has become a growing problem. Thanks to Adolfo Nascimento of the Concord Patch, and AAA Association, here are some things to consider before you text while operating a moving vehicle.Distracted Driving in California
While California leads the nation in seatbelt compliance, deaths of 16-year-old drivers statewide increased 16 percent in the first half of last year compared to 2010, said Kelly Browning, executive director of the nonprofit group Impact Teen Drivers.
Distractions that typically take drivers' focus off of the road - from phone calls and text messages to sipping lattes - are especially perilous for teenage drivers, she said at a news conference at Clayton Valley Friday morning.
"Every single driver at some point has been distracted by a call, a text, a passenger, a pet inside the vehicle, or just adjusting the radio," California Highway Patrol Capt. Jonni Fenner said. "These activities become hazardous when done behind the wheel of an automobile."
During the last month alone, the CHP's Golden Gate Division gave out more than 3,000 distracted driving-related citations, Fenner said.
Teen drivers, with their lack of experience on the road and higher rates of driving without seatbelts, are even more susceptible to injuries or even fatal car accidents when distracted, Fenner said.
Martha Tessmer, a Madera County resident, shared her own experience of the effects of distractions on young drivers. In July 2007, her teenage son Donovan was killed in a crash while riding in a car driven by his girlfriend, who gave in to pressure from teen passengers who encouraged her to speed up, she said.
"If I could turn back the hands of time ... it would be to regain my son," she said, recalling her last words to him as he got ready to leave with a group of friends for the movies.
A school football star with college scholarships on the horizon, Donovan was set to begin his senior year in two weeks, she said.
"My son, after a lifetime of right decisions, died instantly after he hit the pavement," Tessmer said.
Stories from parents like Tessmer and experience with his own sons spurred state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), chair of the Transportation and Housing Committee, to author a resolution declaring the first week of April "California Teen Safe Driving Week," he said.
"California is the first state in the nation prohibiting texting while driving," he said, adding that reinforcing that legislation, especially among young drivers, continues to be a challenge.
Many safe-driving advocates who spoke Friday said they are hopeful future legislation will help drastically reduce the numbers of teen drivers killed due to distracted driving.
Here are some tips on how to avoid texting while driving:Tips for Teens
Tips for Parents
- Don't be tempted: turn off your cell phone. Let voicemail capture your voice and text messages.
- If you have to call or text while driving, pull off the road safely and stop.
- Recognize that text messaging can be a habit. Get support from your friends by letting them know you are working on breaking the texting habit.
- If you think you will still be tempted to text and drive, put your phone somewhere you can't reach it, like the trunk.
- Take control of your cell phone, don't let it control you. You are the only one who decides when and if you send and read a text message.
Set a good example, don't text and drive.
- Don't call/text your teen at times when you know they are likely to be driving.
- Review your teen's cell phone bill with them to see if they are texting at times they are likely to be driving.
- Share this information with your teen.
- Know the Colorado Graduated Drivers Licensing law. It is illegal for teens with an instruction permit to use a cell phone while driving.
- Establish family rules that prohibit texting while driving.