Column by John Brandi

John Brandi

Has the whole world gone mad? What makes anyone think they can safely read a text and respond while behind the wheel of a car? I’m sorry, you’re wrong, not even if you were Jeff Gordon at the Daytona 500.

There are people out there that are going to dismiss this column because they feel like they are extraordinary human beings who can do anything on the road and still make it from point A to point B in a timely and non-lethal manner. Imagine the “Family Feud” big red “X” noise, and that’s my gift to you.

According to a University of Utah study, distraction from a cell phone reduces your reaction time and is like driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08. A similar study conducted at Carnegie Mellon said “driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.”

On average, sending a text diverts the driver’s eyes from the road for 4.6 seconds. A lot can happen then, like some asshole swerving into your lane without their turn signal on or you missing the driver in front of you coming to a sudden halt.

Let’s make it even more relevant: take a look around at your peers next time you’re in class and see how many are fiddling on their phones. In our relevant age bracket of 16 to 24 years, 10 percent are on their cell phone at any one time in their cars.

I can even take it out of the classroom and give you the example of how many people can’t even text and walk. So I’m supposed to believe that your odds of survival by reading and responding to a text about weekend plans or getting together for lunch increase when you start your engine? Unlikely story.

I’m not trying to criticize. I just want everyone to be smart and safe on the road at all times. I neither want to be t-boned by someone texting at a four-way intersection and end up like Christopher Reeve, nor do I want the unrelenting stigma of high insurance premiums associated with the recklessness of 21-year-old male drivers.

I don’t think I’m alone here. According to statistics from Nationwide, 80 percent of respondents support a ban on text messaging while driving. Those who supported a ban also chose not to discriminate against any particular driver where 3 in 4 thought it should apply to everyone with a license.

Even national networks, like FOX, are taking a subtle stand against texting and driving. On the last episode of their hit show “Glee,” though I hate the very idea of admitting I watch it, a character is hit from the side after failing to pay attention to the road. She was scrolling through her text messages.

I would just like to say I had no idea about this unfortunate event in the episode prior to starting this column. These relevant points on television just happen to coincide with my own ideas and general rants concerning things that piss me off. I’m being followed and they’re using me for sitcom material, I just know it.

Text messaging has increased from 9.8 billion messages a month in December 2005 to 110.4 billion in December 2008, according to an article in Car and Driver. While laws prohibiting texting on the road are still in a developmental period, as opposed to those dealing with driving while intoxicated. In that same Car and Driver article, an experiment revealed that sending a text added about 70 feet to your stopping distance if you were going 70 mph.

Point being, it’s up to the driver to use proper judgment and wait until they’re out of the car before reading and responding on their digital device. Moreover, cell phone devices are constantly evolving, like the Siri system on the iPhone 4S that helps you say your text instead of manually typing it, virtually keeping your eyes on the road at all times.

Stay safe. Stay gold.