Texts=Wrecks: Stories and strategies that could save a life
Texting while driving is illegal for all Virginia drivers. A first-time offense will result in a $125 fine. A second offense (and all subsequent offenses) will result in a $250 fine.
But if you’re tempted to text while driving, don’t worry about the fines. Instead, just read the following stories or watch the videos. (Warning: the videos contain disturbing content.)
Through these stories, we hope you’ll see that texting while driving is a matter of life or death.
Liz Marks, former carefree teenager
Liz Marks was a Maryland teenager who was a good student and popular at her high school. She modeled in her spare time. She was living a happy life, until two weeks before her 18th birthday.
Like most teenagers, she loved to text. She stayed in constant contact with her friends, and even her mom, by texting.
One spring day while she was driving, Liz looked down to read a one-word text from her mother: “OK.” Her life hasn’t been the same since. Her car slammed into the back of a flatbed truck that had stopped, waiting to make a left turn. The first responders said Liz was lucky to be alive. The pretty teenager had suffered traumatic brain injuries and permanent facial disfigurement.
She underwent multiple surgeries to reconstruct her skull and face, and spent three months relearning basic human functions like talking, walking, reading, writing, chewing, and swallowing.
Today, Liz is blind in one eye, has trouble hearing, cannot spell, cannot create tears, and cannot fall asleep without medication. Worst of all, she says her friends have slowly disappeared. Some went off to college. (She can’t go to college now.) Others stopped hanging out with her because, in her words, “They got tired of me. They got tired of all my problems.” Liz and her mother are now advocates against texting and driving, speaking at schools, organizations, and other groups.
Other teens share their stories
The second video tells several stories about young people who were texting while driving. In one, a teenage girl deals with the guilt of having sent a text that caused her sister’s fatal accident.
In another, we hear from a teenage passenger whose friend was texting while driving and crashed. Now, he struggles to button his shirt, walk, and talk. He can no longer drive, get a job, or get around town by himself. In his words, “I used to be normal.”
In the last story, we watch a mother meeting with her daughter’s friends to celebrate what would’ve been her 19th birthday. Her daughter looked away from the road to read a three-word text: “where u at.”
While these videos are heartbreaking, they send a message to all of us: Texting while driving is deadly. Do NOT take that chance.
How dangerous is texting while driving?
The National Safety Council gives us the following statistics:
- One out of every four motor vehicle accidents in the United States results from cellphone use while driving.
- Texting while driving causes nearly 330,000 injuries each year in the United States.
- Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while drunk.
- Texting while driving increases the time a driver takes his eyes off the road by 400 percent.
- Of all cellphone-related tasks that people do while driving, texting is the most dangerous.
- An average of 11 teenagers die each day as a result of texting while driving.
- 25 percent of teenagers respond to a minimum of one text message every time they drive.
- 20 percent of teenagers and 10 percent of adults admit to having multiple text conversations while driving.
Closer to home, Virginia statistics include:
- 80 percent of crashes in Virginia are tied to distracted driving, according to a 2013 AAA survey.
- Texting while driving convictions have quadrupled since the Virginia General Assembly made texting while driving a “primary offense” in 2013 in Virginia.
Practical tips to keep yourself from texting while driving
We at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys urge all drivers to think about the lives you could destroy by texting while driving: yours, your family members, your victims, your victim’s family members.
Wanting to help save lives, we’ve launched our “Texts = Wrecks” campaign here in Gloucester, Virginia.
But we know that simply making people aware of the problem doesn’t solve the problem. Most people already know that picking up a cellphone while driving is a bad idea, and yet, the statistics say we’re still doing it.
So here are some strategies to choose from to help you never text and drive:
- Make your phone impossible to reach. Put your phone in the backseat, or somewhere completely out of your reach. That way, you can’t reach it while driving, even if you try. But remember that putting your phone in your purse or backpack nearby can actually make the situation worse – you could give in and start digging around for it.
- Silence your phone while you’re driving. This helps you avoid the temptation if you get lots of incoming messages or calls with alerts. Or you can put your phone on airplane mode so nothing can even come through until you’ve stopped and changed the setting. Psychologically, either of these can help you feel “offline” while you’re driving.
- Stop and turn off your car before using your phone every time. Condition yourself to pull over safely or park and turn your car off every time, before allowing yourself to pick up your phone. This creates a “cost” in time and distance for you every time you check your phone, and keeps you out of the flow of traffic while you’re responding. Worried about a time-sensitive call from your doctor or someone else important? Then have someone else drive until you get the call you’re waiting for.
Regardless of which of these strategies or combinations you choose, it’s important to be consistent in following them—especially in front of children. If they see you taking “no texting and driving” seriously, they are more likely to do the same one day, and that could save more lives.
Disasters happen on the road at 60 mph all the time. At that speed, you are traveling 88 feet per second. Your braking distance in a car is 171 feet, but your distance traveled to braking in 1.5 seconds is 303 feet. You are not going to make it if you are texting. You do not have time to text.
We hope that by sharing these stories and tips with you, we’ve convinced you that it’s never worth it. We hope we’ve given you a strategy to make sure you don’t do it.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a driver you believe was distracted, contact our office to find out your options in a free consultation at (804) 413-6777.
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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.
- Safety Education
GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
- Annual Coat Drive
During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
- Hands-on Service
John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
- Supporting Local Schools
The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.