Students believe phones affect driving ability
By Veronica Morales—
The city of Stephenville passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of wireless devices while driving on April 6, 2010.
According to the ordinance passed by the City Council of the city of Stephenville, an electronic message is defined as “a self-contained piece of digital communication that is designed or intended to be transmitted between physical devices. An electronic message includes, but is not limited to, a text-based communication, a command or request to access an internet site or other data that uses a commonly recognized electronic communications protocol.”
Since 2013, three years after the passing of the law prohibiting the use of wireless devices while driving, Stephenville police have issued 31 citations to drivers for the use of phones while driving. However, the ordinance passed in 2010 provides loopholes, making it difficult for law enforcement to punish an offender.
As stated in the ordinance, “It is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense under this section if a wireless communications device is used: While the vehicle is stopped, for making a telephone call, as a global positioning or navigation system that is affixed to the vehicle, for obtaining emergency assistance to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious traffic hazard, or to prevent a crime about to be
committed, In the reasonable belief that a person’s life or safety is in immediate danger or if the device is permanently installed inside the vehicle.” In other words if the device is used while the vehicle is stopped or during an emergency, drivers may be able to use their device while operating a motor vehicle.
The use of wireless devices has shown to be more prominent among people in their 20s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, “Drivers in their 20s are 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes.”
In a survey conducted by Texan News Service, 63 out of 67 respondents admitted to using a wireless device while driving. The survey also showed that 54 respondents also believed that the use of wireless devices affects their ability to operate a motor vehicle effectively.
Some respondents believe boredom to be a cause for texting while driving. Others admitted to it being a habit.
Out of 67 respondents, 32 also reported that they are unaware of Stephenville’s law on texting while driving.
Distracted driving has been part of the Texas’s strategic safety plan since 2006 but was not adopted by the city of Stephenville until 2010.
In a survey conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, respondents from Texas said, “Lack of funding for enforcement; lack of funding for education; lack of funding for media; lack of a specific distracted driving law” are some of the challenges the state faces regarding distracted driving.
Texas cities are not the only ones taking steps to decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers. The Governors Highway Safety Association posted a news release in 2013 that said that states are passing more distracted driving laws, improving enforcement and data collection as well as educating drivers and teens of the dangers of distracted driving.
“In 2014 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers,” according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration texting, eating and drinking, use of a cellphone, personal grooming, reading, use of navigation systems, watching videos and adjusting music are all considered distractions when driving, but texting is the most “alarming” distraction, for it claims that texting requires more attention from the driver than any other distraction.