Friday, December 11, 2009
U.S. teens ignore laws against texting while driving
Karen Cordova, a 17-year-old high school student and part-time supermarket cashier, admits she sometimes texts friends while driving home from work late at night, lonely and bored.
The Arizona teenager knows it's illegal in Phoenix and dangerous. She once almost drifted into oncoming traffic while looking at her phone.
But would a nationwide ban stop Cordova and her friends from texting in their cars? No way, she said.
"Nobody is going to listen," Cordova said.
The number of text messages is up tenfold in the past three years and Americans sent an estimated 1 trillion in 2009.
Some police agencies, while strongly in favor of such mandates, say its tough for officers to enforce them.
"But with the texting it's a little bit more of a challenge to catch them in the act, because we have to see it and if they are holding it down in their lap it's going to be harder for us to see."
Already 19 states and the District of Columbia ban texting by all drivers, while 9 others prohibit it by young drivers.
TEXTING CAUSES ACCIDENTS
In July, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, citing a study that found texting drivers were 23 times more likely to be in an accident, introduced a bill requiring states to prohibit the practice or risk losing federal highway funds.
The problem is not unique to the United States. In Britain, a public service announcement on texting while driving drew worldwide attention for its extremely graphic imagery.
Cordova's classmate, 17-year-old Anna Hauer, says she often texts her boyfriend when she drives and doubts she or her friends would stop because of new legislation.
"By the time they pull you over, the chances are you are going to be done with your text anyway so they can't exactly prove that you were texting," she said.