Death by Text

by Mark on April 14, 2010

Mary Kavanaugh, 22, planned to graduate in a few weeks from nearby SUNY Geneseo. Last Saturday witnesses said her car began drifting off the road before Kavanaugh attempted to recover. The car rolled into a ditch, and life ended for the outgoing communications major. Cell records showed Mary was texting moments before the crash.

The National Safety Council estimates 28% of traffic accidents are caused by driver distraction while talking or texting on phones. Texting-while-driving increases the risk of accident by four-fold. Nationwide Insurance projects 20% of us are texting behind the wheel. While many drivers agree with the risk, many of the same individuals believe they can do it and remain unharmed.

As the human toll rises, here are some recommendations:

• Unless you have a hands-free system or ear piece, turn your phones off. Even hands-free speaking distracts you twice as much as a focused driver. It is clearly better than looking at screens, punching numbers, and taking a hand(s) off the wheel.

• Turn-off email and message signals. Most premium devices, like RIM’s Blackberry, allow owners to bing or buzz when a message or email comes through. Turn those signals off. All will wait until reach a rest stop or your destination.

• Don’t text at traffic signals. Just because you are stopped, it remains unsafe to text. Many drivers punch it at green, never seeing the car that broadsides them.

Our technologies tend to consume us. Some auto companies are design new computer tools into future dashboards that may further block our driving senses. You continue texting while driving. What could happen to you? Talk to the friends and family of Mary Kavanaugh. Invincibility is as fragile as one tap on a keypad.

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