By: Amelia Passer
Driving is the first taste of adulthood for most teens. Teens pride themselves in the freedom and responsibilities of the road. Well, here’s an experiment to try–next time a teen is behind the wheel, he or she should practice closing his or her eyes, letting go of the steering wheel, and thinking about something completely unrelated to driving. Sounds crazy, right? As it turns out, 60% of American teens are at fault. Texting and driving has gotten out of hand (no pun intended). Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. According to recent statistics, 25% of all car accidents involve cell phone use of some sort, and 21% of accidents involving teens texting are fatal. With statistics growing at such a rapid pace, Mississippi had no choice but to buckle down.
Last month on February 3rd, Senate Bill 2793 was passed by the State Senate prohibiting texting while driving. The law states that a driver could be fined up to $500 for texting while driving, and another $1,000 could be added if the driver is involved in an accident while texting. Reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, 5,500 people die every year as a result of distracted driving. According to statistics, texting and driving is even more dangerous than drinking and driving.
“If we state, as a matter of public policy, let’s don’t do this, then hopefully people will respond and try to refrain from texting,” Senator Gray Tollison said.
This was not the first attempt Mississippi made to pass an “anti-texting law.” Almost 20 bills were filed for the legislation this past month, but only three were passed. Mississippi is now the 32nd state to pass such a law. Teens who routinely text behind the wheel may think twice. No text message is worth a life- or even $500.