OPINION: Texting and driving: lessons not learned

 

Motorcyclist safely maneuvering through the streets of South Orange County. New generation of technology has increased danger on streets by astronomical figures. (Austin Weatherman/ Lariat)

Motorcyclist safely maneuvering through the streets of South Orange County. New generation of technology has increased danger on streets by astronomical figures. (Austin Weatherman/ Lariat)

Jennifer Morales never thought she’d have to watch her son leave her life in a body bag. James Morales was killed riding his motorcycle after colliding with a silver Honda Civic. The driver of the vehicle was texting and driving, not even realizing the red light. Morales was pronounced dead at 4:33 pm on February 3, 2011.

One reply can take a life. The relationship between motorcyclists and drivers has been an on-going war for years but one common enemy that both persons face is the cell phone. In 2012, texting and driving has caused 421,000 accidents resulting to injury, not including the 3,328 lives it has claimed, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

Not that riding a motorcycle was dangerous enough, new age technology has single handedly written their death sentences.

For example, approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Association. Rear-ending a car can lead to a few dents, scratches and on-going insurance company battle. Rear ending a motorcycle will most likely kill the rider.

Many drivers instantly attack the nature of motorcycle riding and claim, “They are asking for it.”

Lane splitting is the maneuver motorcyclists use to drive between cars either during motion or at stop lights. The Department of Motor vehicles has set guidelines for motorcyclists to follow regarding lane splitting. Traveling 10 miles per hour or less while lane splitting creates enough time to react to possible challenges created by other vehicles or the rider themselves.

Texting while driving physically requires you to take the time to take your eyes off the road, process the information given, respond and return to driving. Our minds do not multitask but simply switch focus from one subject to another quickly, according to the National Public Radio (NPR). Summarizing the article, our minds do not simultaneously focus on two separate subjects but rather switch focus from one to another.

55 percent of teens claim that texting and driving is an easy task, according to the Texting and Driving Safety Organization, 55 percent is too much.

61 percent of California drivers surveyed that they had been hit or almost hit by a driver who was on their cell phone, according to the National Highway Safety Association.

An even more frightening fact is that at any time of the day, 11 percent of drivers will be using their cell phone, according to the Parkview Trauma Center.  Considering 220 million people commute an average of an hour and a half, 24.2 million drivers use their cell phone while operating their vehicle.

As a motorcyclist, death is lurking around the corner every second we are on the road. In general, riding motorcycles is 33 times more dangerous than driving a car (Department of Motor vehicles) but with the addition of the fact that if an individual texts and drives, they are 23 times more likely to be in an accident, no one is safe on the road.

5 seconds with your eyes off the road, traveling at 55 miles per hour, can take you as far as the length of a football field, according to the National Highway Safety Association. 5 seconds multiplied by 421,000 injuries, assuming they are each individual incidents, is 2.1 million seconds of not paying attention to the road. When it only takes 5 seconds to take a life, time is precious.

4,668 motorcyclists were killed in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Report. 4,668 people never made it home—never saw their family again. 4,668 families wept the death of their loved one. 4,668 riders never said goodbye.

The driver involved in James Morales’ death served 15 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

Don’t text and drive.

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