North Carolina State Highway Patrol Officers acknowledge the difficulty of enforcing North Carolina’s ban on texting while driving. In their efforts to teach teens the danger of texting while driving, troopers are visiting North Carolina high schools with a program designed to deter the illegal act.
The students watch a video that re-enacts a traffic fatality involving a teenage girl texting while driving, and then drifting into oncoming traffic, ultimately killing the occupants of her vehicle, as well as those in the oncoming vehicle.
Following the video, the students participate in an obstacle course while driving a golf cart. On the first run, students navigated through orange traffic cones without texting. During their second run through the course, they were instructed to read and respond to a text message while driving through the course. One of the teens hit 15 cones while texting and driving through the course.
The results were no different in White River Junction, Vermont, where troopers, following the program initated in North Carolina, ran students through a similar program. One of the Vermont students readily admitted to striking 11 cones while texting and driving.
The aim of the program, of course, is to save lives. The captain of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicle enforcement found a 400% average increase in driving errors and dramatically decreased reaction time.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that cellphone use, whether talking or texting, is responsible for 1.6 million crashes, or 28%, per year. They also report that people who text while driving are 8 to 23 times more likely to crash. These are exactly the statistics troopers hope to reduce through their “dnt txt & drv” program.