The primary responsibility, and the only true task that a driver has, is to operate the vehicle safely. Anything that takes the full attention and focus from this given task is considered a distraction.
Distractions come in many forms, such as changing a radio station, rubbernecking at a wreck scene, grooming in the mirror and eating in the car. While none of these distractions is illegal, each of them does take the full attention of the driver off of the driving task.
Driving distracted is a dangerous habit that can lead to unwanted traffic situations very quickly. If a driver takes half a second longer to react to a driving situation, for any reason, whether it is a distraction or impairment, the risk of collision doubles.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association-Fatality Analysis Reporting System, in 2011, 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States were due to distracted driving behaviors. The report also stated that the drivers involved in those deaths were most likely 16 to 29 years of age.
The lower end of that age range is of particular interest since these are novice drivers. When you combine a young driver with a distraction, it is a recipe for disaster. Texas recognizes this risk and has implemented laws to help curb the danger.
One of the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program restrictions states that a driver under the age of 18 cannot legally use a wireless communication device while driving, including texting and hands-free, except in the case of an emergency. Please know that this restriction is not intended to punish the driver but rather keep him/her safer as well as those who drive with or near them. A violation of this restriction could result in loss of licensing.
Remember that young drivers lack experience. They, along with all other drivers, need to keep full attention on the ever-changing driving environment. Being responsible for a 4,000-pound vehicle takes complete concentration, because driving is a cognitive (mental) task.
You would never think about closing your eyes and driving blind. However, according to textpower.com, on average, a driver takes just under five seconds to send or read a text. If driving 55 mph, you would have traveled 300 feet, the length of a football field, without looking at the road. No text is worth having a collision or even dying for.
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