It is no secret that, when it comes to driving, I am a Type A personality. I know this will be difficult to believe, but behind the wheel I am not the normal, serene, easy going, puppy hugging, Kumbaya singing, Zen inducing peacenik you have come to know and love. Well, ok, one you have come to know and hopefully at least tolerate. And if there is anything that sets me off when driving it is the sight of people texting while they are behind the wheel. Texting while driving is rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous hazards on the road, exacerbating issues for both general society and the workers’ compensation industry. 

That is why I was so pleased the other day to read David Langham’s missive, The Life You Save May Be Your Own. He was discussing the hazards of texting and distracted driving, along with new laws just implemented here in Florida to combat the issue. Texting while driving in Florida has been illegal for some time, but it has been a “secondary offense.” Officers could only cite someone if they came into contact with them concerning another primary offense, like running over the officer because you were looking at your stupid phone instead of the road. As of July 1st, that has changed. Texting while driving is now a primary offense, and officers may pull someone over and cite them when they witness the activity. Langham did a great job of outlining the strengths and weaknesses of this specific legislation. This is important, because with so many distractions already out there for drivers, texting is just one we do not need.

I don’t mind telling you, I was so drawn into reading his article that I almost missed my exit. If the guy next to me hadn’t honked when I wandered into his lane, I would not have realized it was upon me. I thanked him with a full throttled wave, being sure to use all the fingers on my hand.

When you are a Type A driver, little details like that make all the difference. 

Texting is not just an annoyance to those of us who are responsible drivers. It is a safety hazard. A couple weeks ago a lady with a phone in both hands pulled right out in front of me. I very nearly hit her. I was so upset, I considered rolling down my window and throwing my beer at her, but quickly reconsidered. It was the last one of the six pack, and I didn’t have any more with me. That, and I was on a conference call; the wind noise might have interfered with the discussion. 

It was already hard enough to hear with that fire truck’s siren and horns blasting in my ear. Those guys had been following me for over a mile. I have no idea why they didn’t just go around me. That’s what suicide lanes are for.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, irresponsible drivers who text while driving.

They suck, and they have no business endangering the rest of us who do not flagrantly defy texting laws. 

This is a huge problem for workers’ compensation. According to NIOSH, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. From 2003-2017, more than 27,000 workers in the U.S. died in a work-related motor vehicle crash. The National Safety Council tells us that:

  • Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
  • Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. 
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
  • Of all cell phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.

Ok, I actually couldn’t find those stats on the National Safety Council website, and instead found them cited here. It was written by personal injury lawyers and it is on the internet, so it must be true. 

When I get a chance to pull over, I’ll see if I can find a source at the NSC.

That site also tells us that 94 percent of drivers support a ban on texting while driving. I find that interesting as my own observations tell me that about 94 percent of drivers actually text while driving. Perhaps they responded to that survey while driving.

What I did find on the National Safety Council site was that your odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash are 1 in 103, sixth on the list of “Lifetime odds of death for selected causes” for 2017. Thank God for Opioids, as otherwise it would be in the top 5. Many of those vehicle deaths are now attributed to texting while driving.

So, clearly the lesson is that we should not use our phone for texting when we are operating a motor vehicle. It really makes sense, especially when you think about all the other things we Type A’s can do with our phone while driving. Be considerate of others around you and don’t text while driving. Let us order our pizza’s while on the way home in peace.

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