The Dangers of Texting While Driving

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Xzavier Davis-Bilbo is a normal kid who lives in Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He enjoys going to the park with his family and friends, and riding on his scooter. Unfortunately in October of 2010 while he was walking to the park with his older sister, he was hit by a woman who was texting and driving.

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Xzavier Bilbo was dragged 20 feet before the woman stopped. He ended up being put into the ICU for four and a half months. In the end he lost use of both of his legs and his left lung. The woman’s text said I’m on my way, and she was fined $160.00 for this incident. This is just one instance where innocent people have been injured because of another person’s selfishness. Alderman Willie Hines sums up how devastating texting and driving is when he says, You realize what can happen in a split second if you’re behind the driving wheel. When people are driving down the street and not really paying attention but you can change someone’s life forever and you can devastate a family.”” The fact that this lady was fined $160.00 for taking the mobility away from a little kid is absurd. The fine is so low that people are not scared if they have to pay a simple fine.

Another example of a tragedy caused by texting and driving happened in Minnesota involving a teen, a father and his daughter. On July 21, 2015, 17 year old Carlee Bollig was texting and driving and sped through a red light. While running the red light she slammed into a car carrying a father and his 10 year old daughter who were on their way back home from a nearby library. Carlee was driving a pickup truck and when she hit the family she killed both of them. Today there are crosses at the intersection where the family died bringing recognition to this worldly problem. The Sherburne County prosecutors have now charged the 17-year old driver with criminal vehicular homicide, using a phone while in motion and driving without a valid license. Carlee is only 17 years old and is charged for vehicular homicide, just so she could try to post a picture on Facebook. This young teenager tore this family apart because of what she did for 20 seconds. It is unfair to this family that they had to pay the punishment for what another human did. These two family members were murdered and had to pay the ultimate sacrifice while Carlee gets to live her life. Schweigart from CBS News says,””That is a horrific trauma to go through, even as the driver who caused that incident, You have to live with that the rest of your life. When is this going to stop? People are dying everyday and nothing is changing.

In the United States, the average fine for the first offense of texting and driving is $296.41. This fine is too low to create an actual difference in the world and it does pose a threat to the people who regularly text and drive. A step that could be implemented to help this issue is a law that could be petitioned to increase the fine for people who use any form of cellular devices while they are handling a motorized vehicle. With the proposal for a law starting in a small town in the middle of nowhere, it could possibly become a nationally recognized law that everyone follows. If this law is nationally recognized people would be scared to break it because they will see that it is a serious problem. If the laws on texting and driving were increased more people would get scared to use their phones while they are driving, therefore decreasing the chances of accidents caused from texting and driving. In Alaska the fine for a first time offender is $10,000.00 and possible time in prison. Now although this sounds like an absurd amount of money to pay to use a phone, it gets the point across for how important and deadly texting and driving is. With the fine being so expensive in Alaska it does have a positive outcome. Out of all 50 states in the U.S. Alaska has one of the lowest amounts of property damage caused from texting and driving. The punishment for distracted driving is way to lenient. People who drive while on their cell phone put everyone else on the road at risk. Their chance of getting into an accident skyrockets and it is indignant to the other people on the road. These criminals are getting a tap on the wrist with these small fines that are put on them, but it could all change if they had to pay more for texting and driving. The families and friends of the people who get into accidents have to pay more than these people do and that is not fair. David from So Is Texting and Driving in Colorado Legal or Not says that The specter of a bigger fine is meant to deter the deadly act ” as if killing someone or being killed wasn’t enough, this just shows that even he agrees that a larger fine will have a high probability rate to deter people from using their phone while driving. As the StreetsBlog says, Bottom line, according to Grunig, is that the old law wasn’t working. A $50 fine compared to a much bigger fine in the new bill, [the $300 fine] seems like it would be a much bigger deterrent, he said.

Everyone knows how serious drinking and driving is, and the acknowledgement it gets far surpasses the acknowledgement that texting and driving receives. Texting and driving is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. Although these two types of distracted driving are just as dangerous, the two consequences both of them have are quite different. The ramifications for drinking and driving range from temporary driver’s license suspension, fees and fines, high insurance premiums, court-mandated community service, participation in drunk driving education programs, and even jail time. These consequences already surpass the consequences for texting and driving by a long shot. Now the long-term effects range from driver’s license revocation, background checks, employment, auto insurance rates, to personal and professional relationships. This does not make sense. In today’s current society, there has been a decrease in drinking and driving and as it is seen the texting and driving popularity is rising each year. So why is it that the consequences for drinking and driving is more serious than texting and driving? Because people do not recognize texting and driving to be as severe as drinking and driving although they are just as dangerous.

If people are caught drinking and driving they have to do or go through many different types of punishments. One punishment that is very common is having to blow into a breathalyzer device to start their car. These devices are called ignition interlock devices and what they do is after someone blows into the mouthpiece it will analyze if there is any alcohol particles in their breathe. If the device does not detect any alcohol the person is then able to start their car. Now people who are convicted of driving under the influence have to install these devices in their car, but they also have to pay a fine. So even though texting and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving the punishments are far different. That is why a device is needed to be installed into all cars to help stop the texting and driving epidemic. This device could consist of just a cord that someone plugs their phone into that will then turn their phone off and let them start their car or just an app that locks someones phone while they drive. This technology is something that could be so simple to invent but is not implemented in the world yet.

Texting and driving is also an extremely expensive form of distracted driving. In 2015 there was $10 Billion dollars worth of property damage in the United States caused from distracted driving. $10 Billion dollars is a lot of money. This money could have been used for so much more than property damage. If these people were focused on the road and not their phones this money could have been used for schools, public roads, or even charity programs. Back in 2015 two-thirds of the American population owned smartphones. In today’s world, 98.81% of the american population aged 18-64 have cell phones. With this information it is probable to conclude that the amount of damage caused from texting and driving has drastically increased. Not only does texting and driving cost a lot of money each year, it also costs a lot of innocent lives. In 2011 there were 354 deaths, in 2013 there were 411 deaths, and in 2015 there were 452 deaths. As it is seen these numbers are only increasing over the years, and it is only predictable that they will continue to go up each day. In the end people are so selfish they would know the risk of sending or reading a text, but yet still do it.

This epidemic is not only affecting America, but also some nations around the world. In China texting while driving is something that is focused on a lot throughout the country. For example the Leqing court in Zhejiang province convicted a 22- year-old man to a year in prison and fined him 200,000 yuan($30,400 USD) for hitting a pedestrian with his car while he was trying to delete an app on his phone. This shows the importance that the Zhejiang province puts on texting and driving. This man did not kill the pedestrian he merely hit him and he was sentenced to a whole year in prison, if he was in the U.S. he would have been fined a couple hundred dollars. In China the process for receiving a driver’s license is a lengthy and difficult process. The age requirement is the person has to be 18 years old, they have to bring numerous examples of identity, then they have to take a written exam that is 100 questions and if they do not get at least a 90% they fail. Now if you compare the process of how to obtain a license in China versus how to obtain a license in the United States, it is seen that the Chinese way is a lot more difficult. This could be a good thing though. In China if someone has their license it shows that they are mature enough and completely understand the rules and street regulations in China. This could be something that the United States might want to think about adopting into their licensing system because if less people had their license it would obviously make it so that less people are driving, therefore decreasing the chances of someone using their phone while driving. From January to October of this year there were 690 deadly crashes in Shanghai. Only 29.6% (204) of those crashes were caused because of texting and driving. If the population of America (325.7 million) is taken and divided by the population of Shanghai (24.18 million) the number would be 13.5. Then if 13.5 is taken and multiplied by the number of accidents that happened in Shanghai this year it would only equal 2,748. That is 752 innocent people who died compared to the U.S., thus showing that the punishment system in America is obviously not harsh enough to scare people into not texting and driving.

The distraction that texting and driving causes is unbelievable. When someone is texting while driving, the time they spend with their eyes off the road increases by 400%. Teenagers also have a 400% higher chance of getting into an accident while texting and driving compared to adults. When someone who is driving is texting they have a 23 times larger risk to getting into an accident caused by any type of problem. If someone was not texting while driving they could have stopped the accident by what their reaction is, no matter whose fault it is. In the U.S. the average speed limit is 55 mph. If someone took their eyes off the road for even five seconds they would be able to travel the length of the football field, all basically blindfolded. Now if there was someone traveling North and someone traveling South on the same road, both texting and driving, the chances of those two hitting someone goes through the roof. Lastly, but the most mind boggling statistic is that drunk driving is actually more safe than texting and driving. Texting and driving in fact is 6 times more dangerous than drinking while intoxicated. So why is it that the punishments are so different?

In the end, texting and driving is a very dangerous form of distracted driving that goes unnoticed. People are killed innocently each day due to people being reckless and immature while driving. The fines are way too low to scare anyone into not texting and driving, causing them to not care and break the law because they know the probability of them getting caught is super low and even if they are caught they won’t be punished harshly. Something needs to change, whether it is a simple invention people can install in their cars that make it so that they cannot text and drive, the fines and punishments becoming a lot harsher, or even more police officers on duty, an adjustment needs to be made. When it costs a little boy more for innocently walking to the park more than it costs the woman who hit him, there is a problem. Other countries in the world have put the heat on their citizens to not text and drive, America should take some notes. Also the fact that there are different punishments in different states for the same crime is very confusing. In Alaska the fine for texting and driving is $10,000, but in Colorado it is $50 for someone’s first offense. They should be the same throughout the country so that people will be just as afraid to break the law in Texas as they would in Florida. Sharon Heit is a mother of a victim to texting and driving beautifully said how, In a split second you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the hearts of everyone who loves you. This statement tries to warn people who text and drive that within 5 seconds of sending a text to their best friend they could end their own lives and the lives of the people in the other car. It is not a joke, and people do not take this seriously enough. Whether America decides to create a device that is mandatory in all cars, makes it so the fines are more expensive, or decide to have more police patrol the roads during daylight hours it will help this awful texting and driving epidemic.”

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