WTVM Editorial 7-23-19: Distracted driving kills

WTVM Editorial 7-23-19: Distracted driving kills

(WTVM) - It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Georgia’s Hands-Free Law took effect, banning drivers from holding or using their cell phones while driving unless they use hands-free technology.

If early statistics are to be believed, the hands-free law has started to have a positive effect and it might be saving lives.

Texting while driving…many of us have done it. We might rationalize that traffic is light, or our speed is slow; we’re good drivers, so it’s plenty safe to just look away from the road…for a second.

But in reality, taking your eyes off the road for a mere 5 seconds to text is the equivalent of driving 100 yards - the length of a football field! - with your eyes closed. You would never do that.

We all need to be smarter. We can’t think we aren’t distracted when we text, but the other guy is.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who talk on their phones are four times more likely to get in a crash than drivers who are paying attention.

That’s bad, but texting is even worse. The same group says the chances of a crash are 23 percent higher when a driver is texting or sending an e-mail.

Just what age group is the biggest offender of texting and driving? 16 to 24 year-olds.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety wants everyone to remember: keep your “Heads Up." The fact is, if you’re looking down, or away from the road for any reason, you are risking not just your life, but the lives of other drivers on the road.

They have a right to depend on you paying attention behind the wheel.

In Georgia, there have been 697 deaths in auto accidents from January through June. The year before, there were 730 deaths in that same period.

That means the Hands-Free Law has saved 23 lives in the past six months. 23 people doesn’t sound like a lot, unless you are one of the 23 who didn’t die. At least it’s a start.

Those 23 people will never know they could have been killed by a distracted driver.

Remember that number, and pledge to yourself never to be a statistic; killed by a distracted driver or being distracted enough to kill someone else.

There’s no text in the world that’s worth the price you’ll pay.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings an editorial a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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