DON'T TEXT-AND-DRIVE: Driver's unfinished text message serves as sad reminder

Despite extensive campaigns and driver education programmes around the world, it’s a sad fact that many motorists continue to use their cellphones while driving. Modern smartphone platforms avail drivers of the means to interact with their handset through voice commands while on the move, and those who feel they can’t rely on such systems for whatever reason are encouraged to pull over in a safe place to do what they need to on their phones while stationary.

The reasoning behind this is simple, of course – directly interacting with your device requires that you take your eyes off the road, which immediately increases the risk of an accident. Figures from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, quoted by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), show that distraction was the cause of 18% of all fatal crashes in 2010, resulting in the deaths of 3,092 people and injuring over 416,000. The FCC also cites a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which found that text messaging while driving creates a distraction that makes the risk of a crash 23 times worse.

That message, sadly, doesn’t always get through. On April 3, 22-year-old Alexander Heit, a student of the University of North Colorado, was sending a text message from his iPhone to a friend, while driving to Greeley, CO. Before he completed his message, he realised that his car had drifted across the road towards oncoming traffic; attempting to get back on track, he jerked the steering wheel, but the car flipped over and crashed.

Heit died shortly after the crash, but his parents and local police are determined to ensure that something good comes of the tragedy, releasing a photograph of the unfinished text message on his phone as a sad but potent reminder of the foolishness of using one’s phone while driving.

“I can’t bear the thought of anyone else having to go through something like this,” Alexander’s mother, Sharon, said in a statement. “In a split second, you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone who loves you.”

Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner underlined the importance of not taking the risk, telling The Greeley Tribune: “Unfortunately, when we think to ourselves ‘I’ll just do it this one time’, we are fooling ourselves. This ‘one time’ may be the only time… If this tragic, senseless accident can be a learning experience for others, perhaps others will be saved.” 

Source and image: The Greeley Tribune | via BBC News

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Well.... Some people are just not good drivers. Some people can drive and text at the same time, some cannot. Needless to say, MOST people should not be allowed to do this. But unfortunately theres no way to enforce it =\

Saw a report that says communication is the opposite hemisphere of reasoning.

Which do you need more for driving? Tell the passengers to shut up, put your phones down, and keep your 360 view of your current environment.

Simple.

Derek De Souza said,
Can they not just use voice to text? Like the speech function on Windows Phones? or is it not available on other phones

I love TellMe on Windows Phone, works great. Probably pretty awesome when paired with a Bluetooth enabled car. But yes, iPhone and Android can do it too, but iPhone and Android are fragmented in this respect... not all versions can. Every single Windows Phone ever manufactured can.

This may sound harsh but I have no sympathy for those who text and drive and loose their lives, you have been warned for years not to do it so why risk it. You put yourself and others at risk over something so stupid and pointless.

I admit i've done it the odd time just a short message, then i was a passenger in my mates car driving down the motorway and he's obsessed with texting his girl he kept doing it and drifting and nearly hit a car.. never been so frightened in a car, it was a wake up call i don't touch my phone now and shout at anyone who does if i am passenger.

Seen a documentary on texting while driving and have been telling both my parents to stop doing it.

They haven't listened.

Don't know what's wrong with people; you don't have to check your ****ing phone every time it beeps, yet everyone I've seen does it, even if they're busy doing something else, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. Watching TV/movie? Check phone. Shopping? Check phone. Cooking/eating food? Check phone. Talking to someone else? Check phone. DRIVING? Check phone!

Suppose it's good that I'm trying to break emotional connections with people I know, including my family, so I'm not devastated by loss when it actually happens.

Anything that makes you take your eyes off the road is dangerous. Texting is specially more dangerous because you keep your eyes on the phone longer than when you're just changing the radio station, or smoking. But you can always use your voice to text someone, or even pull over and tell your contact you're driving and will answer asap. For the radio, you usually get a remote with it, so there's no need to look at the radio very often...

It's not just performing activity which deviates your attention, but also concentration. When on the phone, you must actively listen in order to comprehend, know when to respond and how to respond.

In my job, travel is always required throughout the day. Often, I am on a conference call (in the car) with business partners and customers. To be honest, I often finish the call and cannot recall having driven the last 10-20 miles, what my speed was, how many lane changes I made, etc. All I know is I didn't hit anyone. Dangerous as heck, but it's not like they allow you to pull over into the emergency lane when you need to make a call or someone calls you. I also can't just ignore the call if I wish to remain employed.

A text is about 100 precise button presses on a small 30 something key keyboard, changing a radio station in a car typically requires a single button press(perhaps repeated a few times to find what you want) on a larger 2 key keyboard. The radio you can in fact do without even looking, the text you can not.
Smoking, drinking and eating does not require taking eyes off road.

Communication via text is a complex brain process that requires considerable concentration. Smoking, eating and drinking are basic motor skills.
Text might take 5 seconds to write, all of which you can not be watching the road(because you are looking at the phone). At 60km/h in 5 seconds you travel over 80m. Go look at a 100m track to understand how far you have traveled while writing a text without even looking.

Talking on the phone vs talking to some in person is different.
The conversation is not as clear and requires more concentration to understand. A handsfree car kit helps as the sound is likely louder, clearer and heard by both your ears.
Also the act of putting something to your ear that makes noise tends to mentally remove yourself from your surroundings partly because it physically blocks other sounds getting in and you will focus on the thing on your ear.
It is why wearing earphones for phones(or a music player) is actually very bad. It will block surrounding noises and you will mentally remove yourself from your surroundings.

Handsfree car kit is the best solution but still not equal to conversation with another human in the car. Another human in the car having a conversation with you is extremely distracting before you make it hard to hear them via a phone conversation on a tiny speaker.

Edited by bits, Apr 16 2013, 2:15pm :

We need to do something big about this issue. I can count at least 5 people texting while driving on the way to work or back to home. It's sad that people don't realize they can hurt others by doing this.

It may sound harsh, but you know what they say: "There's no cure for stupid." Growing up I've been surrounded by adverts and posters telling me about the dangers of drunk-driving and also the dangers of using your mobile phone while driving. I have taken notice of these warnings that are constantly in my face, but others have not.

You should not allow your sister to drive. I don't want to sound like a sexist but there are more female drivers txting/talking on the phone while on the road compared to male drivers.

I make it a point to honk at these people whenever I get a chance. It sure does annoy the hell out of them.

aniv said,
You should not allow your sister to drive.

You could have stopped there and not sounded sexist while still getting the exact same point across. No one should be looking at their phone while they are driving.

EDIT: Huh, we can't strikeout text in the news comments? Odd...

cuz nothing says "be safety minded" better than honking your horn, scarring the cr@p out of someone, possibly resulting in a sudden course deviation or the slamming of the breaks.

How can this be more dangerous than using the radio, smoking, drinking or eating? There are even countries where its still allowed

aniv said,
You should not allow your sister to drive. I don't want to sound like a sexist but there are more female drivers txting/talking on the phone while on the road compared to male drivers.

I make it a point to honk at these people whenever I get a chance. It sure does annoy the hell out of them.


lol, the problem isn't that she's a girl, but that she's texting. I'm not sure why you went that way with your comment, haha.

Rohdekill said,
cuz nothing says "be safety minded" better than honking your horn, scarring the cr@p out of someone, possibly resulting in a sudden course deviation or the slamming of the breaks.

Nothing like using your horn as it should be used. Honk if you want to let other drivers you're there. Someone texting on the phone will not know you're there. Honk away at them.

Girls are just better at handling multitasking, but still not to the point where they can safely text or call while driving.

At least one time a week I see someone speed in front of another person and then hit the brakes. The other person is mostly on the phone. About 30% of the time there is a fender bender. haa

Crisp said,
Touch screen isn't the future.

Exactly!!! Texting while driving is MUCH harder with touchscreen. When I had my BlackBerry I memorized the keypad layout so I did not need to take my eyes off the road while texting.

este said,

Exactly!!! Texting while driving is MUCH harder with touchscreen. When I had my BlackBerry I memorized the keypad layout so I did not need to take my eyes off the road while texting.

sure it's less worse than taking eyes of the road while driving, but you still have to distract yourself to compose a text message.

I must confess, I used to do that with older 4x3 layout phones
Can't do that nor would I if I could with touchscreens, but instead bought a bluetooth car stereo, you can still recieve calls if absolutlely necessary, though I've never used mine to 'make' a call, and keep both hands on the wheel, the trick here is not to let the call distract you. (some would agrue the smartest thing to do would be turn the phone off while driving)

I have not once touched my phone while driving. Not even at a redlight. Hell it bothers me just to glance at the clock or the dials while driving.

-adrian- said,
Hope you watch at least your cockpit or mirrors once in a while

Well obviously the mirrors. Just nothing that isn't pertinent to driving.

A quick glance at your clock shouldn't be bad but when it comes to dials, I memorize the layout and keep the glances to a minimum.

Anaron said,
A quick glance at your clock shouldn't be bad but when it comes to dials, I memorize the layout and keep the glances to a minimum.

That's what I do. Though for the clock I always expect it to be somewhere where it's not.

Panda X said,
I have not once touched my phone while driving. Not even at a redlight. Hell it bothers me just to glance at the clock or the dials while driving.

My new car will have a HUD which projects info like speed (+current limit) and directions on the front window. You can even see the radio station there, I hope this will become more common as it really helps to keep your eyes on the road.

HUDs are proven to be worse that just looking down at your speed, tach, etc, because it is always there and always distracting you. HUDs have been around for a long time in luxury cars but they removed them since they sucked.

Why would anyone want to talk/txt on the phone while doing something as fun as driving anyways? I like both hands available at all times. Especially having a manual transmission. I have been in situations where I was on the phone while driving and I say hold on a sec, put the phone between my legs and then when I come back I say, "Sorry, that was a fun turn". Hahaha.

You sound like a young'un who just got his license. Stop-and-go traffic isn't exactly "fun". A turn isn't "fun", unless you're either easily excited, or you're doing something you shouldn't be doing.