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If you happened to walk through Mantor hall in the past few weeks, you may have noticed something unusual... read more

Pull over, then pull out your cell phone
Sam Bates
Antelope Staff

“OMG this car in front of me is going sooooo slow.”

Does this text message look familiar? My guess is yes. To the millions of drivers who buckle up, start the ignition and immediately pull out the cell phone, it’s time to change this increasingly dangerous bad habit.

If you’re still reading this, thank you for taking an interest in the growing problem of texting while driving. Or maybe you still think this doesn’t apply to you, but you want to see what this editorial is all about. Either way, keep your mind open.

A recent episode of “Oprah” brought the issue of texting while driving to my attention, as well as to that of many Americans. (And don’t judge me for watching “Oprah.” I just happened to come across the episode while channel surfing.)

During the show, an expert on the subject mentioned that sending and receiving texts while behind the wheel makes the driver eight times more likely to be in an accident. That’s twice as much than if the driver was intoxicated. As dangerous as driving is already, why put yourself in any position where your head and hands aren’t focused on the road?

USA Today reported 16 percent of all highway fatalities in 2008 were caused by distracted driving, according to the Department of Transportation.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “That won’t happen to me. I’m a great multitasker. I can handle it.” I have three words for you: No. You. Can’t.  

President Obama agrees. In September he banned texting while behind the wheel of a government vehicle or with a government phone by any federal employee. Obviously it’s a big enough deal that the president even has to issue an executive order.

While Nebraska is not one of the 19 states that prohibits texting while driving, it is one of the 23 that will be debating legislation in 2010 to ban texting while driving for all drivers. But who needs a law telling them what to do? Instead you should just STOP NOW. Everyone knows that just because a law says it’s so, doesn’t mean people, especially those in high school and college, are going to follow that law. Why not just resolve to end your traveling texting now? Then you can say you stopped on your own accord, not just because of a law.

So the next time you hear that familiar buzzing coming from your purse or pocket while you’re behind the wheel, pull the car over and respond back that you G2G.

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