Not too long ago, things were different than they are today. In order to call a co-worker, neighbor or friend, you had to pick up a landline or use a payphone on the corner. There was no easy way to talk on the phone and drive, and texting wasn’t an issue because it wasn’t even an option.
In the past few years alone, we’ve seen telecommunications technology improve by leaps and bounds, which is something all of us can appreciate, but those improvements have also altered the way we connect. Instead of using payphones, people now just pull out their smartphone wherever they are to call or text whomever they want to reach. We see people texting and standing, texting and walking, and, sadly, even texting and driving.
The ability to text has made our communications so much easier in many ways, but has also made the problem of distracted driven exponentially worse. California recognized this problem years ago and made it illegal to text or operate a phone while driving.
Texting and driving can ruin lives in a matter of moments. Five seconds is the average time someone takes their eyes off the road while texting. It’s the equivalent of driving blind at 55-mph for the length of an entire football field, long enough for tragedy to strike.
Each year, nearly 400,000 people are injured by drivers who take their eyes off the road. Another 10 Americans die each day in collisions caused by distracted drivers. Many of these incidents are caused by texting or other smartphone use, especially among young drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 73 percent of drivers 18 to 20 years old admit to texting while driving on a regular basis.
Preventing tragedies is why I’m spearheading the “Stop Texts, Stop Wrecks” citywide public awareness campaign in partnership with the Ad Council, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Transportation. Over the next few months, 360 city buses will feature large ads on the inside and out with this message: “Make Sure You Arrive. Just Drive: Stop Texts, Stop Wrecks.”
Although the goal of this campaign is to raise public awareness and prevent people from texting and driving, it is also a call to action. I believe in our city’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2025, and this campaign will move us in that direction by educating drivers and causing them to think about what they’re doing before they get behind the wheel.
Please spread the word about this public awareness campaign and always remember to put your phone down when you are in the driver’s seat.
If you have thoughts or comments about the “Stop Texts, Stop Wrecks” campaign, email: email@example.com.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Job Creation, represents Council District 2, which includes North Hollywood, Studio City, Valley Village and other communities in the East Valley.