Since school started, two people have fallen down the stairs right in front of me. Not because they are clumsy, but because they were texting. After asking if they were all right, my next thought was, “Was that text really that important?” I bet they’re Tweeting about it: “LOL just fell down the stairs #clumsy #onlyme #stairs.”
Students are accustomed to being social on the go, and this extends to all forms of transportation. Students already text on the go while skateboarding, biking, roller-skating and, most dangerously, driving.
People are becoming more aware of the danger of distracted driving thanks to the Florida Department of Transportation and national campaigns. But it’s one thing to hear information and another to put it into practice.
A new law in Florida that goes into effect Tuesday makes texting and driving illegal. It will be the 41st state to ban the act; however, Florida is in the minority in considering texting while driving only a secondary offense. This means that a driver would have to be pulled over for something else and would then be issued a citation for texting.
We’ve heard the campaigns and the staggering facts. Despite that, we’ve all tried to finish a text while hitting the gas, even though we know texting takes our eyes of the road for 4.6 seconds, enough to cause a tragedy, according to distraction.gov.
At this university, we’ve been inundated by facts, safety fairs and awareness events to help us realize the potential dangers of texting and driving, but statewide that’s not the case.
The state will not be granting funds for the FDOT to stage a major campaign to make the public aware of the law. Because we have been exposed to this information, we should be wise enough to change our habits.
It’s up to each driver to take personal responsibility and put the phone down. Life is more precious than a missed text, and it may be your life or the life of another that is at risk. It’s time to look up and face the world. I know it’s important to stay connected, but wait until you’re stationary to do so.
Ashley Martinez is a junior majoring in journalism and psychology.