No more txting n drving

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It hasn’t been all that long since I took driver’s education in the 10th grade, but things have definitely changed a lot since I was 15.

One huge technological revolution has changed the way we drive forever – the mobile phone.

When I learned how to drive, very few of my classmates had cell phones, but even if someone was lucky enough to have one, the phone could only make calls, and the number of people they could reach was limited, because their friends probably didn’t have cell phones.

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Nowadays, in contrast, most teenagers have cell phones, and most of those phones have text messaging, Internet and email capabilities.

While giving teenagers phones is as a great way to keep them safe if they are stranded with a flat tire or if they get into an accident, the technology also can be quite dangerous, and texting-while-driving is an increasing problem as more and more people use the service for convenience.

In fact, by December 2008, the number of monthly text messages was 110.4 billion, which was more than 10 times the number three years before, according to Imagine how much it’s increased in another three years.

This week, Nansemond River High School gave its driver’s education students a hands-on opportunity to see how distracting text messaging is while driving.

The students had to navigate a golf cart around cones while texting a simple message on a cell phone’s QWERTY keyboard.

Some of them didn’t have any trouble at all, but most of them struggled to keep control of the cart, occasionally nudging or even running over the caution cones. One student even drove up on the curb while she was typing.

The exercise was simple, but the message had impact — texting takes away too much of your concentration while driving.

I fully admit that prior to the exercise I had been guilty of picking up my phone to text while driving, but I’m happy to say I didn’t even have to get behind the wheel of the golf cart to be affected by the activity.

As a more experienced driver, I realize I need to be able to tell new drivers that I don’t text while driving to set a good example.

I certainly don’t want these teenagers to decide after a year of driving they are experienced enough to try it. No one is an experienced enough driver to deal with the distraction of text messaging.

So, I’m going to work on not picking my phone up while driving. After all, it’s the right — and safe — thing to do.