Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Commentary: Texting while driving can cost you

Let’s say next weekend you pack up the family and head out on a 1,000-mile road trip for your summer vacation. But you decide to take a nap for 766 the wheel!

“What?!” you say. “No self-respecting parent would risk his or her family’s safety that way!” But, sadly, you’d be wrong. Drivers all over New Mexico and the world send text messages at the wheel every day, and they will take their eyes off the road for around 75 percent of the time while doing so.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says texting drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 out of every six seconds. At 55 miles per hour, this equates to traveling the length of a football field, including end zones, without ever looking at the road. Texting while driving is extremely unsafe — as dangerous as driving drunk — and it’s prohibited by the Air Force, Department of Defense, the Commander-in-Chief, and Cannon Air Force Base., the Official U.S. Government website for Distracted Driving, lists three types of distraction: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off what you’re doing).

“While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety,” the site states, “texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.”

According to the site, use of electronic devices while driving is increasing rapidly. And remember, “texting” is more than just sending text messages. It includes emailing, instant messaging, using a cell phone navigation device, or browsing the internet while driving.

You may be saying around now, “But I’m a really good driver. I can text while driving safely!” Or maybe you think texting behind the wheel isn’t as dangerous as it seems. Not true.

Texting impairs all drivers, regardless of skill. A University of Utah study indicated that using a cell phone use while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

Also, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers who use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. states that drivers under age 20 are most at risk.

If your safety isn’t reason enough not to text while driving, remember this: it’s against the rules, plain and simple. Air Force Instruction 91-207, The U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program, states that drivers “shall not use cell phones while the vehicle is in operation, except when using a hands-free device.” And texting is hardly hands-free.

This rule, according to the regulation, applies to all Air Force personnel at all times while driving on or off an Air Force installation.

In a final effort to justify your actions, perhaps now you’re thinking, “Well, even if I do text and drive, I’ll never get caught!”

Eventually, you will get caught. It may cost you a ticket (reported to your commander) and a hefty fine of $75 or more. Security Forces personnel at all Air Force installations are increasingly on the lookout for drivers violating cell phone rules.

If you must respond to every titillating message that dings on your cell phone, pull over and put the car in park. But is any text message truly so important that it’d be worth a fine, disciplinary action or, worst of all, your life?

Texting while driving — it’s costly, it’s against the rules, and it’s dangerous, so don’t do it.