Texting while

driving is a death sentence

To the editor:

Let's face it, Americans are driven to distraction. Whether it's screaming kids, bigger billboards or other erratic drivers, we must safely negotiate busier roadways without being overwhelmed by these unavoidable distractions.

But what about avoidable distractions -- the ones drivers create for themselves? We have all seen these high-risk drivers in the next lane: eating or drinking, multitasking and on phone calls, among other distractions.

While these distractions, by all accounts, are diversions to safe-driving performance, at least they are not designed to take the driver's eyes off the road ... and keep them there.

But one avoidable distraction is unique -- texting. Like reading a book, texting is designed to take, and keep, a driver's eyes off the road. Add to that the pervasive texting by our younger and future drivers, and it's easy to foresee how this popular trend could become our next deadly highway trend.

It's a problem so pervasive, some traffic-enforcement officers have labeled it "DWI: Driving While Intexticated."

That is why Federal Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is to be commended for raising the issue in his upcoming national Distracted Driving Summit. Too often, traffic-safety policy is established only after thousands die and many times that are severely injured.

By addressing the issue before more lives are lost, Secretary LaHood will save immeasurable misery caused to friends and families of loved ones. This is in addition to saving health-care costs that we, as a nation, cannot afford.

While some will argue the challenges in enforcing texting laws are too large to overcome, the same arguments were made for other highway-safety measures we now take for granted. For example, no longer is it acceptable to drive impaired, or ride without wearing a safety belt, and teens ease into driving with graduated licensing laws.

By bringing together safety experts and stakeholders, the Summit will produce life-saving enforcement strategies that states may consider adopting to reduce crashes due to texting.

What's the alternative? Hu RU kidN? Mor crs wl crsh!

BOB DALLAS, Director Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety