Distracted driving: For too many, it's do as we say, not as we do

Monday, September 20, 2010

A new ad for a high-priced car touts its ability to warn drivers when they drift into the oncoming lane, and even apply the brakes when it senses a slow vehicle ahead.

Despite common safety features that used to sound like science fiction, most of us don't feel as safe on the road as we did five years ago, according to the third-annual Traffic Safety Culture Index released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The leading reason: distracted driving. Eighty-eight percent of us feel that drivers who text and e-mail as a very serious threat to their safety.

As the winter driving season approaches, now is a good time to make the point: Texting while driving is not only illegal, it's irresponsible and unwise.

Having said that, it's time to take stock in our own driving-and-texting habits.

"As mobile technology evolves at a breakneck pace, more and more people rightly fear and recognize that distracted driving -- texting, e-mails, phone calls and more -- is a growing threat on the road. But, unfortunately, this new data confirms the 'Do as I say, not as I do' attitude is prevalent throughout much of the driving public," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.

The proof is in the study, which shows that, while 62 percent feel that talking on a cell phone is a very serious threat to safety, but they do not always behave accordingly or believe that others share these views.

In fact, nearly 70 percent admitted talking on their phones and 24 percent said they read or sent text messages or e-mails while driving in the previous month.

It's unfortunate that the law is needed, but Nebraska's statute against texting while driving has some teeth in it.

Signed into law last spring, LB 945 prohibits using a handheld device for texting -- and that includes a laptop computer -- while driving.

It's a secondary offense, meaning you must be stopped for some other reason to be fined, but if you get caught texting behind the wheel, it can cost you $200 for the first offense, $300 for the second and $500 for third and subsequent offenses, as well as costing you three points off your drivers license.

So, as tempting as it might be to send off a quick "be right home" text to your spouse while driving, think about the $200 fine that might result -- not to mention the serious accident.

Navigating icy, crowded streets or high-speed highways is difficult enough without being distracted by your smartphone.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: