Can You 'Justify' Texting and Driving?

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS -- Can you justify the last text message you sent from the driver's seat?

That is the question being raised by the International Association of Fire Fighters. Emergency crews across the country are meeting in Cincinnati to discuss firsthand experiences with texting and driving disasters. They are hoping to educate the community and eventually put a stop to the hazardous habit.

Jimmy Vinyard is a member of the Fayetteville Fire Fighters Association attending the conference and he has responded to plenty of distracted driving calls. Research shows a crash usually happens within an average of three seconds of a driver being distracted.

"I've been to numerous vehicle accidents that is was fairly obvious that the person was texting or dealing with their cell phone and they were distracted and that's what most likely led to their accident."

Statistics associated with distracted driving speak for themselves. According to the IAFF, texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to get in a car accident. It is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated and is the leading cause of death among teen drivers.

"It's very frustrating and I think it's an educational deal. I think that's why we're kicking this off and teaching people. They've become so addicted to the immediate communication path through cell phones that they don't realize the harm that they're doing to the community around them and to themselves."

Vinyard went on to say whether it is a quick text saying you are on your way or retweeting a rock star while on the road, there is not a way to justify it.

If you find yourself having a hard time putting down the cell phone and paying attention to the road, here are some simple and helpful tips to stay safe.

        - Put your phone somewhere you can't see it. Out of sight, out of mind.
        - Silence your phone while driving. If you can't hear your notifications, you are less likely to check them.
        - Designate a texter. Ask a friend to read and reply to your texts while you're driving.
        - Pull over or wait until parked to check or send messages.

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