Editorial: Texting is a huge distraction for drivers

Oct. 29, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

It’s an easy habit to start, and it’s a tough habit to break.

No, it’s not smoking. Although it applies there, too.

It’s texting and driving.

You’re motoring down the road and heer that familiar chime from your cell phone. Pick it up and check or leave it alone? You opt for the former — after all, you just left the office and it may be something important. So, glancing down, you read the text.

It is someone from work, and they have a valid question. You could call back, but a simple one-word answer would do. Poking at the touch screen with your right thumb, you get midway through “yes” before refocusing your attention to the windshield.

But it’s a fraction of a second too late.

It may sound cliche, but stopping texts would stop some wrecks.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  18 percent of fatal crashes in 2010 involved driver distraction.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

And the risk is even greater for teens, who are already inexperienced behind the wheel.

According to a study conducted by Researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide are caused by texting and driving.

That would mean it’s likely become a greater hazard than drinking and driving among teenagers.

It’s a sobering reality, and it’s no wonder that the Tennessee Highway Patrol is trying to crack down on the activity — which became illegal in the state in 2009.

Special patrols were out in Knox County on Tuesday, according to Knoxville television station WATE.

“On day one of the two day sweep, they ticketed dozens of drivers,” Hayley Harmon reported.

The officers were using a relatively novel approach, scoping drivers from inside a tractor trailer — where they’d have a better vantage point of what was going on inside the passing vehicles.

While the accompanying fine is just $50 and no points are assessed to their drivers license, it could be enough punishment to prompt texters to stop breaking the law.