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Talking and Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Driving Drunk

By Rhonda Miller | Published 19 Dec 2011 11:44pm | comments
Gulfport Police Sgt. Damon McDaniel

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending cell phones and other electronic devices be prohibited while driving, except for emergencies. MPB's Rhonda Miller looks at the dangers of talking and texting.

At the busy Gulfport intersection of Cowan Road and Pass Road, a woman in a champagne-colored car pulls into the left turn lane with a cell phone to her ear. Gulfport Police Sgt. Damon McDaniel says he sees it all the time.

"The only thing that really bothers me is, not so much they’re on the phone, is that they allow that phone to distract them totally. And that’s when collisions occur," McDaniel says. "It’s just the same as if someone were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs."

 McDaniel says drunk drivers are four times as likely to have an accident, while drivers talking or texting on cell phones are eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Even with these statistics, police are only allowed to give tickets for the possible results of talking or texting.

"Whether it’s drifting across a lane, something there is an actual state statute for, whether it be careless driving, whether it be an improper lane change, or an improper turn and it has something to do with the person being on a cellular phone, then you have something to go on, then you have probable cause to stop a vehicle issue a citation," McDaniel says.

That’s what the National Transportation Safety Board wants to change with its recent recommendation to ban cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, except in emergencies.

Opinions vary.

Taylor Summerlin is an 18-year-old driver in D’Iberville.

"I know it’s dangerous, but I feel that it could be important. I know it’s probably more important to pull over, but I do answer the phone while I drive," says Summerlin.

In Gulfport, Cindy Edwards believes hers is a common- sense approach.

"I think hands-free would be all right because, if you had somebody riding in the car with you, you'd be having a conversation with in them just as you would somebody on the phone." Edwards says. "So if you’re using a hands-free device, it should be OK, but texting, no way."

Mississippi does have a law that prohibits teenagers from texting while driving. 

 



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