Editorial: Texting and driving presents danger

Social media has been a positive revolution in personal communications, but it is also posing dangers to the public when people

irresponsibly “text while driving.”

The state is now enforcing a new law that prohibits texting while driving and other forms for social media which distract

the driver of motor vehicles.

State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson recently gave a good case in point about his meeting with a woman whose daughter

died in a texting related traffic accident. The daughter was texting when the accident happened.

“There’s no reason for that,” Edmonson said. “The simple message of ‘it can wait’ goes so much further than the fact that

you’re not going to use your car for a short period of time.”

He said no message is so important that it cannot wait until the person reaches his or her destination or pulls over into

a parking lot.

Edmonson told this story outside State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge to kick off “Drive 4 Pledges Day”.

As part of the national awareness campaign, people across the country are asked to take the pledge online at itcanwait.com

that they will never text and drive. Recently, Westlake High School students pledged not to text and drive.

Edmonson said distracted driving has become a major cause of traffic accidents and troopers have no problem writing tickets

for texting while driving.

In 2005, State Police added texting while driving as something they check for when investigating accidents. Distracted driving

was added to the checklist in 1999.

Edmonson said troopers have issued more than 100 tickets since Labor Day for texting while driving.

According to a ConnectSafely.org survey

commissioned by AT&T, 78 percent of teen drivers surveyed said they

do not text and

drive if friends tell them that it is wrong or stupid and 93

percent of teen drivers said they would stop if a parent asked

them to stop.

“We want our customers to know that we want them to stay our customers and the best way to do that is when it comes to texting

and driving, it can wait,” said Sonia Davis of AT&T. “No message is so important that we need it now.”

State Police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain said Louisiana has a law banning texting while driving and a new law went into effect

this year that bans people from being on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while driving.

Cain said more than 2.5 million people across the country have already taken the pledge. The campaign is about increasing

that number.

“Far too often, my officers see

firsthand the devastating results of texting and driving,” Edmonson

said. “Changing behavior

is hard to do, but we can if we work together to raise awareness

of the dangers of texting and driving and make it socially

unacceptable to do so.”

Go to itcanwait.com and take the pledge.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.