Texting and driving: Just stop it
It's a dangerous intersection at King and Columbus streets.
The downtown corner outside our newspaper building is a microcosm of what's happening elsewhere — motorists running red lights or driving inattentively.
Those who work here have seen it time and time again. Actually, every day, several times a day, someone runs the light. A co-worker was struck once but escaped serious injury.
Inattentive driving is nothing new, of course. But texting while driving has become a universal distraction.
And it must stop.
Discussions on the local, state and national level must continue if we are to crack down on what is a prolific and potentially deadly pastime.
No LOL matter
And it's not just the kids.
A new study by AT&T found that texting while driving isn't just a problem among younger drivers. Of more than 1,000 drivers surveyed, half of adults said they had sent a text message while driving; 43 percent did it habitually.
We know that no one pulls out a cellphone and thinks he may kill or hurt someone. But we know it has happened.
And it will happen again and again if we don't take heed.
Some chilling texting and driving stats:
From the National Safety Council: Texting causes 1.6 million accidents per year.
From the Institute for Highway Safety: 11 teen deaths a day.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Driver distraction caused 18 percent of all fatal crashes in 2010 — with 3,092 people killed and 416,000 people wounded.
Astounding figures, for sure.
But what is the answer? Is it a ban? Should we start policing ourselves?
Try a personal ban
Our state does not ban texting while driving. But not for lack of trying.
Last year, the General Assembly tried but failed, citing concerns about enforcement and infringing on personal liberties.
Aren't life and health personal liberties?
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, introduced another bill this year. It waits. He did so after receiving a wake-up call after running a red light while reading a text.
Charleston County Councilman Joe Qualey wants the county to tackle the problem if the state fails. So far, there has been discussion but no action.
That's on the legal front.
What can we do?
Maybe we need to tackle it from a personal standpoint. I've said it in this space before: We should ban ourselves from texting and driving.
We see TV ads all the time about the horrors of texting while driving.
What will make us stop taking chances with our lives and the lives of others?
Think about it.
Meanwhile, maybe Charleston traffic police will check out King and Columbus streets.
Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555.