Group Campaigns Against Texting and Driving
COLUMBIA - Multitasking and driving can be a deadly combination. Eating, daydreaming and texting on cell phones are some of the causes for distracted driving.
Dr. James Kessel, the director of trauma service at University Hospital, is part of a group to help reduce distractions. "The purpose of this meeting is to try to achieve a public awareness of a real subtle threat," Kessel said.
According to the Department of Transportation, drivers who are texting take their eyes off the road 4.7 seconds at a time while non-texting drivers divert their attention for 1.2 seconds. The small difference in times makes a big difference.
In 2008, nearly 6,000 people nationwide died as a result of distracted driving-related accidents. Another 500,000 people reported being involved in an accident or being injured due to distracted driving.
Kessel and Col. Ronald Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, support legislation to ban all drivers to from texting, which would strengthen the current law.
"I think (the current) law is an example of good intentions, but without any ability to enforce it," Kessel said. "You have to be 21 (or under) to be pulled over... and there's no way police are going to be able to identify who's 21 and under."
The legislature is considering seven bills related to distracted driving for 2012. One bill in the Senate proposes a ban on texting for all drivers; not just for those under 21.
In 2011, none of the distracted bills passed, but the jump in distracted drivers' accidents might be catalyst for approval.
Kessel's advice is simple, "Don't do it. It's not a game you can win and the consequences of inattention are life long."