Let's all be above cell distractions

We hope the message from the Bucs Above Distractions campaign kicked off last week at Grand Haven High School is quickly driven home to young and older drivers alike.
Jan 17, 2013

 

The focus of the campaign being funded by a state grant is about motorists having their eyes on the road at all times.

Traffic signs and a blinking traffic signal greet students and visitors as they enter the high school’s rotunda. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a simulated distracted course as part of the campaign.

Dennis Threadgill, coordinator of the school's Performing Arts Center, secured the $2,000 grant for the program. He said the campaign will spread throughout the community by the end of February, and well it should.

If we are honest with ourselves, we all know that texting and phoning while driving can cause accidents. We all realize the dangers of driving drunk, but many researchers believe using the phone while driving is as serious or even more troublesome.

While the campaign aims at safe driving, Threadgill said it’s also about being a responsible passenger. He encourages passengers to text or call for the driver, and remind drivers to not operate a phone or even adjust the radio while driving.

If a call is so important, Threadgill said, drivers should pull into a parking lot before using a device.

Coincidentally, Gov. Rick Snyder signed "Kelsey's Law" last week that prohibits teens with a Level 1 or 2 driver's license from using a cellphone while driving. Level 1 licensees must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or another driver at least 21 years old. A Level 2 license allows a teen to drive alone, but with limits on hours and young passengers.

The law is named for Kelsey Raffaele, a 17-year-old from the Upper Peninsula who was killed in a crash while chatting on her cellphone.

Many states, including Michigan, have outlawed texting while driving, and many have banned phoning. While hands-free phoning is allowed in some of the states that banned hand-held phoning, it is still distracting.

Texting not only takes the driver’s eyes off the road, it too is a mental distraction.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended a ban on all phones while driving — talking or texting, handheld or hands-free. It seems like a reasonable request, given the grave nature of the problem.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of American teens. In 2010, more than 3,000 deaths and 416,000 injuries on U.S. highways were traced to distracted driving, including texting.

For young drivers ages 16 to 24, it’s a severe case of denial. A national survey showed that 60 percent of the drivers in that age group admitted to texting while driving.

This is potentially lethal behavior. Studies show that a driver who takes his or her eyes off the road for two seconds raises the risk of a potentially horrific accident.

We commend Grand Haven High School for starting this campaign, and we encourage young and old alike to listen up. Keep your eyes on the road and your mind on driving.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

MeanSmith

I almost hit some kids the other day bc I was texting/facebooking while driving. I (and the kids) was very lucky. I am going out in full force to stop this type of bad behavior! I could be in jail, and worse off, these kids could be dead! lets all step up as a community and stop this insanity!!

Walking Alive

I watched a GH city police office last week try to maneuver his cruiser around a corner one handed while on his phone. He barely managed to round the corner safely, swinging wide into a turn lane. Good mentor there. Watched a lady behind me leaning on her wheel, talking on the phone with one hand and gesturing with the other hand using her elbows to steer, all while driving 45 mph and with a carload of kids.
Please, Hang up and pay attention to your driving. You can call them when you are done driving (what, 5 minutes to them to wait?).

Lanivan

I hope you didn't see me trying to blow my nose and driving with my elbows during a recent cold.....Now that I think about the safety issues involved and the fact this was on display, I will try something different next time.

rukidding

There are few things that infuriate me more than playing dodge ball with the idiots driving, while on the phone. I'm not just talking texting, which is absolutely freaking crazy, but just people talking. These "individuals" can't talk without using hand gestures, looking at themselves in the mirror, some need to see what they are saying I guess, and basically ignoring every rule of the road. I make a practice of speeding up, slowing down, and in some instances changing my route, when confronted by these people. I will do anything to get away from them; sooner or later they will hurt someone. Unfortunately, these people don't seem to learn, or listen well; they have to have a tragedy occur that affects them personally to get the message. MeanSmith, you are the perfect example; thanks for speaking out and stopping this deadly behavior.

MR. WILLIAMS

Long before cell phone use while driving was a publicly recognized issue, I made the decision to turn off my cell phone and tuck it into my jacket pocket while driving. I thought back to the times when there weren’t any cell phones and If an urgent matter did come up while driving I would find a pay phone and take care of my business at the phone booth. If a dire emergency does arise while driving such as; an accident, medical emergency, or UFO landing, then I will pull off the road and stop in an area safe from any traffic interaction and then make whatever call I find necessary to make. Over 30 years ago I took a, AAA Defensive Driving Course and from that time to present I have implemented all of the precautionary defensive driving techniques I had learned which has saved my life on several occasions. More than ever I keep alert when driving to what all the other drivers I can see on the road are doing. On the highway from Grand Haven to Muskegon I have witnessed a Van traveling at 40 mph in the 70 mph speed limit zone and he was also going onto the right shoulder or the road and then veering over into the passing lane and when he, a 30 year something man went to the right shoulder again and I pulled up alongside of the Van to see his head bent all the way down texting and every so often looking up at the road, I did pass him and took the next exit, found a safe place to pull over and called 911 and told them of what was happening, plus giving them the Plate number and detailed description of the Van and of the driver. The Operator thanked me and told me she had just sent out a bulletin to all Police cars in the vicinity. I have no qualms about calling 911 when I witness what I perceive as dangerous circumstances on the roadway. Every once in awhile when I’m driving in town I will count how many vehicles coming towards me where drivers are on their cell phones and how many aren’t. It amazes me when the number of drivers on cell phones out numbers drivers not using cell phones. This isn’t mainly a “Teen” issue, because the majority of people I see using cell phones while driving CPWD are mostly adults and the majority are driving more expensive vehicles like, Cadillac’s, SUV’s, and Escalades. I really hope that a law is passed “Banning cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.”

 

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