Debate continues on texting while driving
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 21:07
With many becoming comfortable and careless texting while driving, the question of whether or not texting is something that should be regulated or accepted as part of living in the digital era is getting a lot of attention.
Is texting a friend about what you ate for lunch truly worth a significantly higher risk of a car wreck due to lack of focus on the road?
Questions like this are being put under a microscope around the country, and many in Florida are asking if texting and cell phone usage should be regulated on our roads to prevent accidents.
In early June, a 26-year-old in Naples totaled his car by going full speed into the back of a parked fire truck out on an emergency call. The fire truck had its lights on and horns blaring.
This happened while the driver of the car reached for his cell phone, according to Florida Highway Patrol troopers.
He ended up totaling his car and doing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to the fire truck and was charged with careless driving.
Although there have not been any reported injuries or accidents on FGCU campus due to texting, university police look out for students driving and using phones irresponsibly.
University Police Department Chief Steven Moore said the prevalence of texting makes students careless.
“Texting has become second nature, making many fairly oblivious to their surroundings,” he said. “Newer generations that have grown up around such devices and texting often do not regard it as dangerous in any way.”
The use of texting has changed even more aspects of student life and communications.
“Many students may even text better than writing a term paper of theirs, and have even turned in written statements to our UPD station and myself written with text-like abbreviations and quotes,” Moore said.
Moore thinks cell phone regulation is necessary to ensure safety.
“For safety, many if not everyone needs to have rules in place from employers, family, or teachers to make cell phone usage more safe or restricted while more data is collected to possibly provoke legislature to pass a law about texting and phone usage,” Moore said.
Legislation banning texting while driving has popped up in other states.
Here in Florida, FGCU students are split on the issue.
Many students feel they are in control if they are texting while driving.
Justin Carter, a senior majoring in communication, describes texting while driving as “a fairly normal habit, and not affecting many in a negative way.”
Many students take the opposing position.
“Seeing other students on campus driving with their faces down freaks me out, and students simply have to have self-control as to where and when they’re texting,” said Kia Young, who is majoring in nursing. Young also said she has an application on her Android phone that helps curb the temptation to text and drive.
“It not only doesn’t allow you to call or text while driving, but also doesn’t ring once sensing you’re in your car. The app even sends a text to whoever tried to call or text saying that you’re driving,” Young said.
Even with many technological advances for driving and phone safety, many still choose to text and drive.
Many students openly said or admitted they felt or knew it wasn’t safe, but they did it anyway. Although texting while driving is frowned upon by law and UPD, it is not illegal and more of a personal responsibility and choice for people and students.
“[Ideally,] people or students will come around as to the dangers of doing something risky or irresponsible like texting while driving even before a law would need to be made,” Moore said.
UPD encourages students to make wise decisions when using their phones and driving.
As smart phone technology expands, texting or making phone calls are not the only cell phone temptations while driving. Smart phone users may also be distracted by the ability to use Facebook, play a game like Draw Something or surf the web from their phones.
Moore and UPD hope students consider the serious risks and make wise decisions when using their phones while driving…even if they really want to text friends or update a profile about how lunch was.