FHP: Don’t text and drive

July 29th, 2009 by

TAMPA – The Florida Highway Patrol is getting really tired of distracted drivers — people behind the wheel texting and even e-mailing. FHP says distracted drivers are causing thousands of crashes in the U.S. every day.

FHP troopers are now handing out brochures reminding drivers of the dangers.

“You may think they’re intoxicated or there some other medical issue, however they’re on phone text message and talking on the phone. That’s a distraction,” said Sgt. Larry Kraus.

FHP is joining the “Stay Alive Just Drive” campaign. They’re urging drivers to forgo distractions.

Sgt. Larry Kraus says some drivers are just focused on their phones, rather than the road, and a recent study at Virginia Tech University study backs up FHP 100 percent. The school’s Transportation Institute studied what happens in vehicles the moments before a crash.

Volunteers drove with cameras and other sensors in their vehicles for a year to 18 months. The researchers say the method provided more accurate data than traditional reports on driver distraction.

“Police officers show up after the crash occurs and they do the best they can, but the crash has already occurred and they don’t know what was going on in the seconds prior,” said Tom Dingus, director of the Transportation Institute.

The study links texting to the highest risk of all cell phone functions. Researchers say truck drivers who text pose the greatest threat. They’re 23 times more likely to crash or almost crash while texting behind the wheel, according to the study.

Few we talked to say they do it. Truck Driver Calvin Jones says never. He says he is very aware of the fact that he’s driving a potentially lethal machine.

“There’s been times I’ve carried … 80-thousand pounds and to control these trucks, it’s not easy,” said Jones.

After 25 years as a truck driver, Bernie Gluch says he knows better too.

“You gotta keep your eyes on the road, believe me, when you’re driving this thing,” Gluch said.

“If you swerve over, if you’re texting, if you swerve over, that could be it,” he said.

AAA found that nearly 90 percent of drivers said texting or emailing while driving is a very serious threat to safety, but eight percent of those same people admitted to doing it in the past month.

It’s frustrating for drivers who don’t.

“There should be some interference device in cars to prevent text message while driving because I’ve been rear ended in a car accident three years ago and the driver was text messaging,” said Lindsay Steele.

The Virginia Tech researchers believe texting while driving should be outlawed for all drivers.

The Florida State Legislature has taken the issue up, but so far, no bill has become law.


One Response

  1. Colleen

    How about “Stay Alive-Hang Up and Drive”??!! I get so sick of dealing with stupid drivers and their cell phones, they are much worse than dealing with old people (the Driving Dead)or tourists. I agree with a nationwide ban.

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