Texting and Driving: Is it Worth it?

Alex Dockery, Columnist, 2012-2013

All drivers at some point in their driving career has received a text message while driving. In this moment drivers are faced with a decision to either read it or leave it. When you pick up and read a text while you’re driving, you are essentially driving blind; you are taking your eyes off of the road for several seconds and slowing your reaction time. Any driver knows that an accident can happen at any moment, but it’s easy to forget. The truth is that no one is invincible on the road, and even a quick few seconds with your eyes off of the road can change your life, or someone else’s.

Last May, two-year-old Calli Ann Murray was walking across a crosswalk with her mother, Ling, when she was run over and killed by a woman had been texting and driving.  Her grandfather, Al Andres, spoke out on her behalf on the issue of texting and driving. “Paying attention to a text message in the car and not paying attention to what’s going on out in front of you, which is where your eyes should be, can cause you to kill somebody. Everybody in the car is somewhat responsible for the actions of the driver who violates the law and texts while they’re driving.” He also wanted to make sure that people knew that when someone’s life is taken from them like Calli’s was, it strongly affects the family and the entire community. He wants people to think of the serious, life-changing impact they might have on other people when texting and driving.

Amanda Umscheid’s sister died in a 2009 car accident while attempting to text her back about an upcoming family event. She lost control of her car and crashed into the median on a highway in Kansas. Her truck rolled over and she was ejected and killed instantly. “I still hold myself responsible in part for killing my sister, my younger sister,” Umscheid said. Her guilt has inspired her to speak out to prevent anyone from having to feel the way she does. She has used her story to speak out to teens all over the country. She wants them to understand that as much as you shouldn’t be texting and driving, you shouldn’t text someone if you know they are driving.  “If you have respect for your parents, don’t do that. If you have respect for the person on the other side of the phone, don’t do that.”

The stories that these people provide us prove that the decisions we make can drastically affect other people. When you receive your license, you are given the responsibility to drive in a way that is safe to you as well as the people around you. It is certainly not safe to text and drive, so why do we do it? The story of Amanda’s sister proves that whatever the text says, it can wait. No text message is worth risking your life over. The story of little Calli shows us that it is our responsibility to hold drivers accountable for their actions. If you are in the car with your friend and he or she is texting while driving, it is your responsibility to tell them to put the phone down. The same goes for your parents.  No one is an exception to this rule. So the next time you get a text message while driving, ignore it.