Do Yourself a Favor, Don't Text and Drive

It's so easy to imagine - you're driving home from an internship in LA, stuck in stop-and-go traffic on the 5. Frustrated, you send a text to your roommate to let her know you're going to be an hour late. When you look up from the phone, the traffic has suddenly stopped again and BOOM, you hit the car in front of you. 

If you've ever been in a situation similar to this - and the only negative outcome was damage to two cars -  consider yourself lucky. The truth is, texting while driving is now the leading cause of traffic related deaths and accidents. It causes:

1. 1,600,000 accidents per year (National Safety Council)

2.  330,000 injuries per year (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study

3. 11 teen deaths every day (Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts)

4.  Nearly 25% of all car accidents 

In fact, texting while driving has become six times more dangerous than drinking and driving. It is considered the same as driving after you have consumed four beers.

But the problem is that no one thinks they will fall within these statistics. Chapman student Niki Hollenback says, "I think college students especially feel pretty invincible. When you're driving you think, oh i'll just send this quick text, i'll only be distracted for a second." We all can easily fall prey to this mentality. Laine Bernstein adds, "We feel very untouchable. We're a very entitled generation, and you think 'oh it will never happen to me,' until it does. Until you're put in an actual dangerous situation, it will keep happening."

So how do we get people to stop texting while driving? 

Several preventative measures can be adopted to help stop texting while driving. Drivecam is a recording device that monitors a driver's activity, so parents can keep an eye on their kids when they're driving. AT&T offers Drive Mode, an anti-texting and driving app for Android & Blackberry. There are also apps for iPhones that enable voice activated texting.

One student, Kiley Williams, urges students to take part in these preventative measures. Kiley has had first-hand experience with the dangers of texting and driving after causing more than one texting-related traffic accident. Kiley shares, "The first accident, I was on the phone with my mom making a right turn and I didn't realize the lane merged into one. I wasn't paying attention and I smacked into this brand new Mercedes." Kiley was grateful no one was hurt, but her family was responsible for an expensive repair bill. 

Texting is not the only issue. Any activity on your phone can cause an accident. Another time, Kiley was snapchatting and rear-ended the car in front of her. "I was stopped at a light and I was snapchatting when my car starting rolling and I didn't notice. The driver of the car I hit tried to claim neck injury, which could have also ended up costing my family a lot of money," says Kiley. Today, Kiley does not text and drive and has become more conscientious of other drivers participating in the activity.

So how can you help? Learn the facts and make sure your friends and family know the true dangers of texting while driving. But you can do even more than that. Change starts with you. Don't wait until you're actually in an accident - make the commitment yourself to become a better, safer driver by signing the Text-Free-Driving Pledge at textinganddrivingsafety.com.