Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Do as I say, not as I do.
That’s the message a lot of parents send to their teenage kids when — after warning them about the dangers of yapping on their cell phone or texting while driving — they chat, text and drive
Most U.S. drivers ‚ close to 70 percent, admitted talking on their cellphones when driving, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly half of adults in the study said they text and drive, while a slightly lower number of teen drivers — 43 percent — cop to driving while texting.
“The cell phone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Driving and dialing or texting don’t mix. If you are driving, pull over to a safe place and stop before you use your cell phone.”
The most recent study on the subject found, just as the others have in the past, that drivers who text are as dangerous as drivers with a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit.
Most people — regardless of age — understand cellphone use is risky behavior just as smoking is.
Yet, that knowledge isn’t powerful enough to get drivers to stow the gadgets. And neither do laws banning the practice and imposing a fine ($124 in Washington state) for violating the ban.
So what’s the answer?
Make it socially unacceptable behavior. A social stigma has been attached to drinking and driving over the past 30 years. Drunken drivers are rightly made to feel like outcasts. As a result, the number of deaths from drunken driving shrinks year after year.
It is going to take time to make this societal change. People love their electronic devices and nearly all of them don’t believe anything bad could ever happen to them. Drunken drivers used to believe that, too.
Changing the perception of cellphoning and texting while driving starts with parents — no, all adults — setting a good example. Telling kids not to text is not effective when they see adults doing it.