Our View: Getting out the message about texting
It’s the law now — don’t text while driving — but the job of instilling safer driving habits in a population hooked on sending text messages is far from done.

In social media and news stories, we continue to hear about tragedies involving drivers who thought they could manage it.

A bereaved family in Colorado is sharing a photo of the phone showing their son’s last text conversation in the hope that it will help prevent others from making the same mistake.

“Ya that’s cool lol no worries”

“Hey man I had to run out for like an hour”

“Sounds good my man, seeya soon, ill tw “

The Centers for Disease Control is studying the problem under the heading “distracted driving,” which includes texting, talking and reading email while behind the wheel. In a 2011 study, the CDC found 31 percent of US drivers aged 18-64 reported they had read or sent text or email driving messages at least once in the past month. And in 2010, distracted driving was a factor in almost a fifth of the accidents that involved an injury.

Those are alarming statistics

AT&T, one of the communications giants providing cellular telephones and services, is taking steps to try to help train the public to make safety a priority. Last week members of the company’s “Texting & Driving: It Can Wait” team visited Fayetteville High School to try to help people there better understand the danger involved.

Students used a driving simulator to demonstrate what could happen while texting. They were also asked to walk the length of a gymnasium blindfolded – the distance a car travels in one second at 55 miles per hour. The average text takes five seconds.

A survey commissioned by the company indicates that while 97 percent of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of them admit to sending a text while driving — and 75 percent say the practice is common among their friends.

To bring attention to this issue, AT&T produced a 10-minute documentary titled "The Last Text," featuring stories of real individuals whose lives have been adversely affected by texting behind the wheel.

The company is also making videos and other material available on its website dedicated to educating the public on the subject, itcanwait.com.

State government has also gotten involved. Last May the Alabama legislature passed, and Gov. Bentley signed into law a bill making it illegal to text while driving in the state.

It was a common-sense bill that needed to be passed.

But it took House member Jim McClendon of St. Clair County six years to get it through the legislature.

If it takes our elected representatives that long to get the message, we can be sure its also a message that bears repeating to our younger drivers — and to some who aren’t so young.

We appreciate all the efforts being made to make the public more aware of the dangers of distracted driving. In modern societies, vehicular travel is so commonplace, we give very little thought to the potential dangers involved. Every driver should give full attention to driving, every time, every day.

If you get a text message while driving — it can wait.

© 2013