“Any Message Can Wait…”

Oxnard High School students share their views on texting while driving

AT&T @ Youtube

Oxnard High School senior Mary Allison Ihrke demonstrates texting and driving.

Melissa Cuevas

Oxnard High School senior Mary Allison Ihrke demonstrates texting and driving.

Melissa Cuevas and Edith Gallardo

According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV),  “as of January 1, 2009 a law against driving while reading, writing or sending a text message went into effect.”

A first offense begins at $20 and then for each additional offense a $50 charge is imposed. However, penalty assessments can raise the fine of a first offense to  $76 and a second offense to $190. Ventura County Highway Patrol Officer Victor Arela said on average officers report, “about 10 to 15 [incidents over texting and driving] a day, if not more.”

Oxnard High School senior Jennifer Garcia* said, “It is really bad to be texting [while] driving because it is like driving blind folded.” When texting while driving, five seconds is the average time that  a driver is distracted  from the road, as evidenced by the official U.S Government Website for Distracted Driving. With this in mind, OHS senior Andrew Ortiz said, “If I’m not focused on my driving [then] I’m focused on my phone and I might not see somebody and kill [them].”

In a study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute,  text messaging while driving can increase the likelihood of being in an accident by 23 times. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In 2010, driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes.” OHS senior Peter Gomez* said, “Just the thought of being in an accident can scare [anyone]. I think it’s really bad what I am doing and I think about the consequences.”

AT&T released  a teen driver survey where 61% of teens admitted that their friends text and drive.  OHS senior Victoria Amuezcua said, “I know someone in particular [and] as soon as I see him grab his phone, I snatch it right off him and I put it in the glove department.”

“I think [texting and driving is] a big issue and I don’t take it as seriously as I should” said OHS senior Mary Allison Ihrke. AT&T’s 2012 survey additionally reported that 75% of teenagers believe that texting and driving is “very dangerous,” yet 43% still choose to text and drive.

Recent commercials are now beginning to bring awareness to the public concerning the dangers of texting while driving. For example, AT&T’s collaboration with Demi Lovato is promoting driver safety by texting (#x) to pause a conversation with friends and family. However, some teens believe that advertising and promoting will not change teen’s habit’s of texting and driving. Amuezcua said, “Sadly, there is already a lot of awareness going on about it, but I feel like people will still do it regardless…because they just won’t stop.”

Currently there are 5,429,664 who have pledged to not text and drive on AT&T’s campaign. Amuezcua said “any message can wait”, so take action and join the pledge.

*Names have been changed due to students requesting to remain anonymous.