Contact Street Smarts
Texting while driving equally dangerous as drunken driving?
What are you more afraid of, a drunk driver or someone who’s driving while distracted by their cell phone? Now, fess up to whether you’ve done any of those things during the past month. A new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Tuesday reported that motorists who text message while they are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle are feared almost as much as those who are driving while drunk. But some of those fearful drivers admitted to committing the very ills they considered unacceptable in the 2009 study. “There are so many motorists in California who would never consider drinking and driving, yet somehow they make the decision to text or e-mail while driving,” said Jenny Mack, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “This survey shines the spotlight on bad driving behavior while raising some dangerous public misconceptions.” In California, adult drivers age 18 and up must use a hands-free device to talk on their cell phone. Also, using their phone’s texting and emailing features is illegal. Younger drivers, however, are prohibited from any cell phone use of any kind while driving. Drivers caught illegally using their phones face a fine for a first time offense of $20; $50 for a second offense. Read the complete law online at www.dmv.ca.gov. Back to the survey results, 90 percent of respondents said that driving under the influence of alcohol was a very serious threat to their safety, while 87 percent made similar observations about people who text message or email while driving. The study also found that more that two-thirds the respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone and 21 percent admitted to reading or sending a text message or email while driving during the past 30 days. In other survey results, nine out of 10 respondents said that running a red light is unacceptable, yet 26 percent of those same people admitted to running a red light during that same time period. Meanwhile, nine out of 10 people surveyed considered tailgating as unacceptable, yet 24 percent of those same people admitted to tailgating in the past month. To learn more, visit www.aaa.com/saferdriving.