The Black Berry Craze (Ii)

13 Oct 2012

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BlackBerry Phone

Safe driving with Jonas Agwu Cont'd from lst week

Like I said earlier, the use of phone while driving, reading and sending text messages on the wheel has become the vogue all over the country even though the Traffic Act of 2004,  says DONT USE YOUR PHONE WHILE ON THE WHEELS. Unfortunately,four out of five drivers in most cities  would rather phone, text, chart and E-mail while on the move. Everybody including deviants would rather criticize than take a stand against such driving habits that have claimed lives and maimed others.

Globally, efforts are being made to check the madness associated with Black Berry and other phone users. Oprah Winfrey, the celebrated US TV presenter of Oprah Winfrey show has blazed a trail. Oprah is a celebrity, not a crash victim. However, since January, 2011,Oprah began A NO PHONE ZONE CAMPAIGN. The talk show Queen is asking drivers to sign an Online pledge that they will avoid using their cell phones while driving and drive responsibly. ‘’ It’s a fact. Distracted driving kills. My plea is to recognise that really it is an addiction. Look, five years ago, ten years ago, we weren’t doing this.

This Isn’t what we did. We used to drive in our cars and reach the destination, think about what we had to do once we got to the destination or think, about our lives.......... just driving was enough. And i think driving still is enough. In 2008, a  9-years old girl, Erica, was killed while riding her bike by a motorist on her cell phone. Erica was only 15 pedals away from her house. Winfrey said, that was the story that impacted her the most. ‘ it was something about the 15 pedals. Because we all have been on a bicycle and we know what 15 pedals to the front door means’’, Winfrey said. ‘‘ To arrive home and see your daugther lying on the street dead when she was 15 pedals from the front door (it was) devastating and recognising that it didn’t have to happen’’.

Winfrey joined forces with  several public private transportation groups,such as the US Department of Transportation,the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Students Against Destructive Decisions..’’A call or text isnt worth taking a life’’.We must not allow more mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers to die before we take actions against distracted driving’’, she noted while announcing the initiatives. She invited motorists to obverse a National ‘‘No Phone Zone Day’’ and to make each car ‘‘No Phone Zone’’. Motorists were also asked to sign on-line pledge to drive responsibly and avoid using their cell phones behind the wheels.Within one day more than 213,000 people had signed the pledge.This number includes top guns such as the Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood who said she was proud to participate in Winfrey’s initiatives. ‘‘We know that if we can get people to put away cell phones and other electronic devices when they are behind the wheel, we can save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of injuries every year’’ LaHood said.

Oprah’s campaign is aimed at raising awareness on the dangers of phoning or texting on the wheels. She  was moved to initiate this after seeing a piece by now-Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists Matt Richtle. Her campaign is supported by many celebrities and public figures who have pledged to no longer text or use cell phones while driving. One of such celebrities is Richard Branson,the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic,Virgin America,Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active.

Crashes involving Distracted driving injured more than half a million people in 2008 in the Unites States of America. Deadly driving habits kills nearly 6,000 Americans a year,according to the NHTSA. Car crashes are the leading killer of youths in America –they kill an average of 11 teens each day. As US Secretary ofTransportation Ray LaHood says, ‘‘the mother who lost children,the children who lost mothers. You want no part of that kind of loss.Talking on the phone while driving causes as much impairment as drunk driving- its like driving after you have taken 4 beers and if you are texting while driving, you are 23 times as likely to get into a crash. In the US, nearly a third of all crashes are caused by drivers who are either talking on cell phones or texting.Studies have shown that  drivers who use their cell phones for talking or texting have much slower response times than those who do not.They also have slower reaction times than people with blood alcohol levels of 0.08.Studies have also shown that poeple who talk and drive at the same times are four times likely to crash.Those who text and drive are twenty times more likely to have an accident.While the dangers of phoning or texting behind the wheels is undisputed, laws that ban texting while driving have not reduced the number of crashes across four states in the US according to a study, but a slight increase in road accidents has been recorded.

The Highway Loss Data Institute compared the insurance claims in four states of California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington before and after the texting ban, with those in nearby states that don’t have these laws.

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