Adults drive distracted more than youth

Imagine a device that weighs less than a pound, can be held in the palm of your hand and has such control over you that you are willing to take potentially life-ending risks just to gaze into it. That’s exactly what Minnesota drivers are doing with their cellphones when texting and driving.

There is a perception that this is an issue only amongst our young drivers, but recent studies say that’s dead wrong. Data compiled by AT&T recently discovered 43 percent of teens and 49 percent of adults disclosed texting while driving. It has also been demonstrated that texting while driving poses the same level of impairment as operating a motor vehicle with a legally intoxicated blood alcohol level.

So we have to ask the question: Why would we expect our teens to not be developing this potentially deadly habit, when they are watching the adults doing it?

As a society, it’s time that we take texting and driving seriously. There is nothing so important in an email, text message, or any other electronic message that it is worth risking a life for.

Composing a five=second reply while traveling at 55 mph equates to traveling the distance of a football field without looking at the road. Take five seconds of driving time the next time you are behind the wheel and picture all that is going on around you that you would not have seen if you had been looking at your phone. Now picture a child on a bike that rode into your path in a split second … which you didn’t see … because of a phone.

Driving is not a divided-attention task. Please consider the importance in giving it 100 percent of your attention, waiting to read or reply to messages and setting a good example for those around you. Your life, or the life of loved ones, may depend on it.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts and e-mails, and for them to access the Web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. Law enforcement officers throughout Sherburne County will be out in force, targeting distracted driving violations in April. — Joel D. Scharf, Big Lake chief of police