No Texting and Driving: Not Just a Message for Teens

I work in a high school where students are constantly on their phones. Students have nearly run me over in the hallway not looking up from their phone. My car has narrowly escaped accidents from teens zooming through the parking lot, often on their phone.

With social media, cameras, email, and texting on phones, the temptations to pick it up never leave the average teenager or even adult. Phones causing distracted driving seems to be happening more and more. I’ve begun to wonder if the message, “No Texting and Driving” should be a message for all drivers, not just teens.

No Texting and Driving: Not Just a Message for Teens

Tragedy Close to Home

The school district I work in experienced the death of two of our students to a texting/distracted driving accident earlier in the school year. Their sister was also seriously injured in the crash. Someone who didn’t know details of the crash would assume that the teenagers were at fault. Instead, a 35-year-old man driving 60 mph rear ended them. He did not break before the crash. He’s charged with texting before the accident.

Texting is the most common form of communication for the majority of people, including myself. It’s easy, quick, and usually gives you an instant response, but the distraction of texting while driving has proven to be an unsafe choice. Some even believe distracted driving is more impairing than drunk driving. Iowa’s vehicle fatalities was the highest in a decade during 2016 with over 400 deaths. Some experts believe the number is so high because of distracted driving.

Think About Your Kids

I will admit that I used to text while driving. While I had taken some steps to curb my texting several years ago, my perspective truly changed when my first daughter was born. I realized how precious and fragile this little life was, and I didn’t want to do anything to put her unnecessarily in harm’s way.

It’s important for us as parents to be good examples to our kids. I would think parents would want their kids to avoid distractions while driving. We as adults have to practice what we preach to our children and set a good example. We at least have a glimmer of hope for them to listen to us if we are doing the same.

Laws are Changing in Iowa

I completely understand how hard it is to put the phone down. As parents, we are constantly on the go and are trying to balance our household and job. We spend a lot of time in the car taking kids to school or activities, driving to work and running errands. Often, the only time to catch up on text messages is when we are in the car, but this doesn’t mean it’s the right time.

Starting July 1st, using your phone for anything other than talking or GPS usage will be a primary offense in the state of Iowa. This means that a police officer can pull a driver over if they observe them texting behind the wheel, even if there isn’t another violation. Before, officers could only write a ticket for texting if the driver had committed another crime (speeding, running a red light, etc.). While the ticket for the offense (close to $100 after court fees) isn’t where it should be, in my opinion, it’s at least a start.

Ways to Prevent the Temptation

I know the new law will make me think twice before grabbing my phone to scroll through Facebook  or quickly answer a text. I’ve also started to implement some easy things to resist the temptation as well.

  • The easiest thing to do is call someone when they text or you need to tell them something. I’ve found myself doing this more and more. Bluetooth allows me to quickly call someone versus texting.
  • I also silence my phone so I don’t hear the constant ping of notifications.
  • Finally, I’ve been putting my phone out of reach so I’m not tempted to grab it while driving.

The next time you get behind the wheel and want to grab your phone to answer that text, view that Snapchat photo, or check that Facebook post; ask yourself if it’s really worth the risk of losing a life. Your life, your child’s life, or another person’s life. I know for me, it’s not.

What are your thoughts on texting and driving? What do you do to prevent it from being a temptation?

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Elizabeth is a personable, outgoing mom living in Cedar Rapids and working as a high school counselor. She met her husband, Ryan, in high school, but were friends for several years. They started dating while they were both at the University of Iowa and have been married since 2009. After enjoying 5.5 years as a married couple with only a dog to be responsible for, they added to their family in November 2014 when their daughter Elin was born. They welcomed their second daughter, Myla, in October 2016. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys being outside, reading, traveling, attempting to be crafty, running, cheering on the Hawkeyes and spending time with family and friends. She’s loved seeing Cedar Rapids through the lens of a mom and all our city has to offer for families.