Attraction to distraction

This staff editorial appeared in the fourth addition of the Prospector which came out on October 29, 2010. The prospector staff challenges its readers to take a pledge to not use their cellphones in their cars for the month of November. Please comment on the article below to take the pledge.
 A Crystal Lake teenager was driving her parent’s 1998 Lexus ES300 down Country Club Road on Sunday, Oct. 24, when she swerved off and traveled across a lawn, eventually hitting a garage. This incident caused several thousand dollars in damage. The cause of the accident: texting while driving.
Texting and driving is dangerous, but that’s old news. People tell teenagers tirelessly that if they text and drive, the next accident is bound to be them. In reality, the accident in Crystal Lake is an isolated incident, and most young drivers take the risk everyday and come out victorious. 
Teenagers are well-known for committing the act of texting and driving, but they are not the only ones who have success. According to a study done by Pew Research Center, 47 percent of adults who use the text-messaging function on their cell phones said they have read or sent messages while driving. 
This does not only affect the driver’s control of the vehicle, but it also influences the young drivers that accompany them in their cars. 48 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 said that they have been in a car while the driver was texting. 
This negative influence on teenagers who are just learning to drive promotes their mentality that texting and driving is a social norm in America. It’s just another driving skill to be mastered.  
Along with texting, Americans are distracted by the calling feature on their cell phone while driving. Due to bluetooth, hands-free calling and wireless head sets, cell phone companies have made accommodations so that Americans can talk while driving and deem it a “safe” practice. Evidently, this is not true. According to the National Safety Council in 2010, 1.4 million traffic accidents are caused by cell phone conversations annually.
Even though it is legal in the state of Illinois to talk on the phone while driving, talking, texting, or playing with your phone in the car is a distraction. But out of all the distractions that cell phones provide texting and driving is the most highly recognized threat on the road currently. 
What’s astonishing is that companies are helping fuel this problem. A hands free texting device may sound ridiculous, but it is available and bound to become the new accommodation to texting and driving in the near future. The Android and iPhone markets provide applications that allow people to talk and text hands free along with hands free e-mail and other hands free commands. 
We, The Prospector, believe that the slowly developing accommodation for texting and driving would only increase potential dangers on the road. Although the state of Illinois has ruled that talking and driving is a acceptable distraction, a cell phone turned on in the car is a dangerous distraction whether it is used to talk, email, text or navigate. 
Instead of inching along to the acceptance of texting and driving, it is essential to maintain a strict policy with phone use in motor vehicles. The Mount Prospect community should set the example for society by not tolerating cell phone use in motor vehicles.