Texting and driving bans already exist in many states, although it varies as to whether they are considered primary or secondary offenses. If it is a primary offense, police officers can pull a driver over for texting; if it is a secondary offense they must observe a driver breaking some other law in addition to texting to pull them over.
Officers in Decatur, Ala. said they have not seen as many drivers texting behind the wheel since their ban went into effect in 2010.
"Just as officers are going about their daily patrol, they're certainly watching for all types of offenses including this, and they're just simply not seeing it," said Decatur Police Lt. John Crouch.
Huntsville, Ala. resident David Little said he does still see drivers engaging in this risky habit every day. He takes particular notice of the activity, since he was almost killed by a texting driver three years ago.
A 17-year-old driver hit Little's GMC Yukon while going more than 55 miles per hour.
"I'm just driving along, the kids are in the back seat, one of them had fallen asleep already, and it was just --'bang.' There was no reaction, there was no, 'Hey look out' or I never hit the breaks. It was just an instant 'kaboom,'" said Little.
His wife and three small children were not injured in the crash, but Little was smashed between the dashboard and seat. He couldn't get the door open. Later, he realized the impact had dislocated his femur, broken his hip, collarbone and nose, and punctured his lung.
"I know for a fact if we were driving a smaller car I'd have probably been killed. There's no doubt in my mind," he said.
Little spent 16 days in the hospital before moving in with his parents, whose home was more handicap-accessible than his own. He endured more than six months of physical therapy and emotional trauma.
He believes everyone is just an instant away from becoming advocates for a cause, and conveying the dangers of texting and driving is now his. Little's hope is that other drivers will hear about his story and realize no text is urgent enough to endanger your safety or the safety of others.
"I just ask them before they send or read that text, 'Is it worth dying over?' If it is, read it. if it's not, put it down," he said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a texting driver's eyes leave the road for five seconds. If the driver is going 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field.
The NHTSA created a campaign to encourage drivers to stop texting behind the wheel by providing tips such as designating another person in the vehicle as your texter, or keeping your phone out of sight by hiding it in the back seat or glove box.
Drivers can also sign the "No Phone Zone" pledge created by media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who supports the anti-texting and driving cause.
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