The war against texting while driving

Popular infatuation with texting has grown from 4.1 trillion text messages per year in 2008, to more than 1.6 trillion text messages per DAY in 2010, a phenomenon whose side-effects, such as death and injury due to car accidents, have yet to be fully quantified.

American teenage texters reportedly average over 4,000 text messages per month, an intensity bordering on addiction for many, exacerbating the very real dangers of "Texting While Driving" (DWT.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is widely considered to be socially inappropriate and intolerable, but a growing body of research indicates that DWT could become as bad or even worse a public hazard than DWI, and should be just as socially unacceptable as driving drunk.

According to a U.K. Transport Research Laboratory study commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, motorists sending text messages while driving are "significantly more impaired" than ones who drive drunk, The study showed texters' reaction times deteriorated by 35 per cent, with a whopping 91 percent decrease in steering ability, while similar studies of drunk driving indicate reaction times diminishment of a relatively modest 12 per cent. By that measure, DWT is three times more dangerous than DWI.

Dennis Simanaitis, Engineering Editor of Road & Track magazine, reported back in August, 2008 that research at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found that not only are holding, dialing, or - horrors! - text messaging with mobiles is dangerous while driving, and that just the mental interaction of talking on a cellphone -- even a hands-free unit -- degrades driving performance.

This week, U.S. mobile carrier AT&T released a dramatic 10-minute documentary titled "The Last Text," featuring stories of real individuals whose lives have been adversely affected by texting behind the wheel. The video will be distributed nationwide to schools, safety organizations, government agencies and more as part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign. Each of the eight individuals included in the full-length reel volunteered their stories to help AT&T educate wireless customers – particularly youth – on the risks of tapping away on their cell phones in the car. The documentary can be viewed online at no charge on AT&T’s “It Can Wait” website and on AT&T’s YouTube page.

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