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Distracted driving epidemic

Distracted Driving has become such an epidemic laws and commercials have been created to prevent the issue

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Distracted driving epidemic

Distracted driving has become an epidemic. Many people and companies established campaigns to prevent it.

Distracted driving has become an epidemic. Many people and companies established campaigns to prevent it.

Madeline Mitchell

Distracted driving has become an epidemic. Many people and companies established campaigns to prevent it.

Madeline Mitchell

Madeline Mitchell

Distracted driving has become an epidemic. Many people and companies established campaigns to prevent it.

Laney Hoggatt, Co Editor-in-Chief

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Texting and driving has become a growing epidemic. The National Safety Council reports that the use of phones while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. That means that there are about 43,836 crashes a day because of texting and driving. Distracted drivers can be using their phones to text, call, read articles, take pictures, get directions, and access social media. Texting is said to be the worst distraction on the phone because it can fully take a person away from what they are doing. According to Edgar Snyder and Associates, texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road. While drunk driving is more fatal, texting and driving causes more accidents and is more common.  Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk according to Edgar Snyder and Associates.

The epidemic became so big that AT&T launched an “It Can Wait” campaign. It advocates that no text, call or phone distracted is worth not watching the road. They launched the campaign with a series of emotional and informative videos and a pledge for drivers to sign promising to not use their phones on the road. As of right now, 35,832,132 people who have pledged to not use their phones while driving.

Saturday, Feb. 2, an 18-year-old college student was hit by a 17-year-old driver on Garland Ave. The college student was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. She died Monday, Feb. 4. The driver remained on scene and was given two citations:  failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and use of a handheld device while driving. At the University of Arkansas, there are several crosswalks on the roads that go through campus for pedestrians to use. Drivers are required to yield to pedestrians on those specific crosswalks. The crosswalks are marked with a yellow sign that states “State law: stop for pedestrian within crosswalk.”

This accident has had a strong effect on the university and the local community. The accident has caused several drivers to be a lot more cautious with pedestrians on campus.

“I feel like I have noticed a difference,” U of A freshmen Destiny Thrailkill and Piper Scheurman told 4029 News. “People are stopping for others walking, and that’s good, but it’s sad that it had to take an incident for people to become aware.”

While some of the crosswalks cross busy roads. This is not a very common problem at the U of A. Typically, pedestrians will make sure the car is stopping before crossing and locals know to watch for college students.

“[Campus safety is] not one of the first things that comes to mind,” Thrailkill and Scheurman told 4029 News. “You think about the dangers going to college, but this isn’t the first thing that hits your brain.”

Arkansas has very strict distracted driving laws in order to prevent the number of distracted driving incidents. Law enforcement uses the saying “U Text – U Drive – U Pay.” This anti-distracted driving law was passed in 2014 and has been modified to have more restrictions over the years. The law states that drivers under 18 cannot use their phones at all even hands-free cell phone use. The only reason they can use their phone is for emergency purposes. For drivers 18 to 21, are permitted to use hands-free mode but not have a handheld device. Drivers over 21 can use a handheld device to talk on the phone unless they are in construction, school, or work zones. In those restricted areas, drivers can only use hands-free technology. For all ages, drivers are prohibited from texting or using social networking apps. The only exceptions to these laws are for the use of GPS or contacting emergency services. Drivers can also be pulled over if a cop believes they are on their phone.

If a driver is found breaking this law, they will be fined $250 and it could be doubled if they are in a restricted zone. Drivers also can be fined $500 when an accident is caused by cell phone use. On a driver’s second ticket for using a phone while driving, the driver will be fined $500. Drivers can also be charged with a reckless driving conviction or negligent homicide if the driver kills a person through the accident.

Texting and driving is a national epidemic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, 3,450 people have died because of distracted driving and 391,000 accidents have occurred because of distracted driving. Like AT&T’s campaign states, no message, post or phone notification is worth a person’s life because they can always pull over. NHTSA states that teens are the most common group to text and drive. Teens and all drivers should think twice before pulling out a phone because that one text could end a life.

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About the Contributors
Laney Hoggatt, Co Editor-in-Chief

I am a senior. This is my third year reporting and second year being an editor. I typically write features articles. I am the choir president and am in...

Madeline Mitchell, Photographer

Class of 2020.  Photography manager.  Twin.

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