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posted: 9/19/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: Pledge today never to text and drive

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Take the pledge. Today.

Tell your friends and your family that from this day forward you vow never to text while driving. Resolutions made publicly are less likely to be broken. Tell them that, while you love hearing from them, it's not worth killing yourself or someone else over.

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And then make it a part of your life.

The national campaign to discourage texting while driving, "It Can Wait," has been gaining strength for well over a year. The four major cellphone carriers are squarely behind it -- AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Today is "Drive 4 Pledges Day," when people are asked to commit once and for all never again to text while driving. Go to the "It Can Wait" website, itcanwait.com, and take the pledge, then encourage your friends and family to do the same. If you've got a box of tissues handy, watch the "The Last Text" documentary; or try out the online simulator.

Really, who doesn't know that texting and driving is a bad idea? It's right up there with sticking a finger into a light socket, and yet the numbers are staggering:

• 1.6 million accidents per year related to texting while driving.

• 330,000 injuries per year.

• 11 teen deaths every day.

• Nearly 25 percent of all car accidents caused by texting.

The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute equates it to driving blind for five seconds at a time -- and at 55 mph that's the length of a football field.

According to the "It Can Wait" website, fully 75 percent of teens admit texting/driving is "common" among their friends.

This isn't just teens, of course. Anyone who commutes to and from work in a car has seen other drivers -- adults -- bobbing their heads up and down, trying to read or write while keeping an eye on the road.

We live in an age of instant communication, not just of important news, but in relationships. A hundred years ago, people could form thoughtful replies to letters that arrive in the mail; today we're anxious to reply to emails and texts immediately, lest someone think we're rude.

How nice it would be to be able to program your phone to respond with an auto-reply when you get behind the wheel.

"Thx 4 txt," it might say, "but I'm driving right now."

Until that day, take your finger out of the light socket. Take the pledge.

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