Local Celebrities and Students Put Texting and Driving to the Test

7 years 5 months 4 weeks ago Monday, November 22 2010 Nov 22, 2010 Monday, November 22, 2010 7:02:12 PM CST November 22, 2010 in News

COLUMBIA - It's a term we hear every day, multi-tasking which sounds great unless your life is at risk. Texting and driving is illegal for young Missouri drivers but does that mean older drivers can multi-task any better than teenagers? In this Target 8 Investigation we put age to the test, not on a highway...but on a race track.

Its a battle between two generations...meet team one. A few local celebrities who are old enough to be exempt from the state texting ban.

"Are these like some sort of South American go karts?" asked Norm Reubling from Mo-X.

"No, lets do it," exclaimed KOMU 8 Meteorologist Michelle Bogowith, "wait, what am I typing again?"

Former MU Defensive Lineman Lorenzo Williams said, "I'm the best there ever was, and nobody can mess with my stuff...especially when I turn it on."

"If I cuss, will I lose my job?" asked KOMU 8 Morning Anchor Megan Murphy.

Also on the team? 2009 Big XII Gymnast of the Year Sarah Shire.

Representing Law Enforcement...Deputy Trevor Fowler. 

"I'm using technology to be a safe driver," Fowler stated.

Now it's time to meet team two. Juniors and Seniors from Southern Boone County High School in Ashland.

Phones in hand, the celebrities take to the track first. They have one mission: to send a clear, legible text while safely navigating the course. The message? I shouldn't be texting and driving, I could get in a wreck.

A smooth start, but soon the struggle between the phone and the wheel...come to a smashing halt.

Next up are the challengers, confident in their skills. After all, this is the generation of technology.

"I can sit there and not even look at my phone and do whatever I need to do."

"We're the younger generation, we text more than they do."

Out of the gate again...this time at higher speeds.

"I can visually see their eyes coming off the road of what they're doing and paying attention to the cell phones," observed Fowler.

Coming off the adrenaline -- we asked the drivers how they think they did.

"It was impossible," said Reubling. "I didn't have a clue where I was going or what I was doing"

"I almost dropped my iPhone like three times and I was texting somebody...it was ridiculous," said Williams.

And it's not just the seasoned drivers who admit...defeat.

"Not as easy as I thought it would be."

"If somebody hit a wall -- you hit a wall. It's not like you just ran over the yellow line a little bit"

Even the most confident drivers are now thinking twice before picking up the phone.

"Not only do you have to pay attention to how you're driving, you have to pay attention to other people."

"That's why both of my kids say DO NOT text and drive, Dad. Very bad for you."

The adults cause fewer crashes, but they are moving way too slow for traffic...and we can't even read most of their messages

"I have numbers where there should be letters, I somehow went into capitals," stated Bogowith "I don't know how that happened!"

The students' texts are better, but their driving is far worse...faster speeds and more collisions.

"I don't think anybody should be able to text and drive. Its just too much of a hazard with both groups out here today, both adults and kids driving."

So our conclusion?

"If I can't do this in a go kart, I can't do it in a car...."

Go carts or real cars, NOBODY is safe when texting and driving.

National statistics say texting and driving bans have not reduced the number of crashes related to cell phone use. This is because drivers are now hiding phones below the steering wheel, which makes the problem worse.

Missouri lawmakers have been unsuccessful in passing a texting ban for all drivers.

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