FLAMES OF THE TORCH

Driving in New York State will be a little bit safer in a month when a new law goes into effect to crack down on the growing trend of texting while driving. The new law makes it possible for people to be fined for sending text messages while driving a car, a dangerous maneuver that has become a daily reality on many roads, not only in New York, but across the country.

The lure of an unread text message or the ability to quickly communicate with others creates a temptation difficult for many drivers, especially younger ones, to resist. Cell phones have developed into a device so essential to our everyday lives that we seldom go anywhere without them, and we use them for organizing, e-mailing, and most importantly, staying in contact with people. The technology involved enables us to be accessible 24/7 in multiple ways that are fast, impersonal and highly convenient.

But while these phones are modern devices that bring luxury and clarity to our lives, the reality is that they become deadly distractions when drivers decide to pick them up. Cell phones are perhaps the biggest culprits for creating distracted drivers on our streets, and the new law that was recently set in place will not fully eradicate the problem.

Every day people wreck their cars and cause serious injury to themselves and others around them because they couldn’t wait until they finished driving to send their next text message. The new law may classify texting while driving as a fairly small infraction, but killing someone in an accident is not so small a crime.

Drivers should really think about the implications of texting at the wheel and realize that it only takes one slip of the wheel to end up off the road or in a head-on crash. It’s easy to become wrapped up in the bad habits of friends and people around us, but it is never safe, or sensible, to distract yourself with a phone while driving a car.

In order to avoid the temptation, drivers could put their phones out of reach while driving, or silence their ringer to avoid distraction. By taking action against a bad habit, it becomes easier to avoid the danger.

While the new law enables police to impose up to a $150 fine for texting behind the wheel, it is only considered a secondary offense, meaning drivers cannot be pulled over solely for texting. This lessens the capacity of the enforcement, and may not be enough to completely dissuade all drivers from partaking in the risky act.

So while this new law may not necessarily invoke the fear of God into drivers who text, drivers should understand the real dangers involved and take responsibility for their driving. The only way that we can truly expect to see change in the bad habits of modern drivers is to not adopt these habits ourselves.

If you are a driver who frequently uses the phone while driving to your next destination, consider the dangers involved, and think of ways to make it impossible for you to be tempted by the phone. Breaking a habit can be a hard thing to accomplish, but putting the phone away for the drive should be a primary concern for all drivers.