BY JOSH PRESLEY
Mississippi has no law to ban texting while driving for most drivers, however law enforcement officials maintain the practice has become a problem.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, there were more than 400,000 impaired driving accidents across the country in 2012, with more than 3,000 deaths.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Criss Turnipseed said texting while driving is not just a problem for law enforcement, but for everyone on the road.
“As time changes and more technology is introduced, we’re going to have more issues with distracted drivers,” Turnipseed said. “It’s not just texting, but Facebooking, Instagramming, Tweeting and even looking at Google Maps.”
Turnipseed said many of the residents texting while driving are younger drivers. Young drivers have less experience behind the wheel and, according to Turnipseed, may not understand the responsibility needed to operate a vehicle safely.
West Point Police Department Juvenile Officer Zate McGee said texting and driving is second only to drinking and driving when it comes to creating dangerous driving conditions. She said more teenagers are driving now than ever before, and they don’t have the necessary maturity for the road.
“Just because you’re a good kid doesn’t mean you should be trusted behind the wheel,” McGee said. “We see these kids speeding and texting while driving, which their parents don’t think they’re doing.”
McGee said when she talks to youth about cellphone usage while driving, she tells them to put the phone in the back seat. If the phone rings, she tells the person to ignore it until they get where they’re going.
“Pretty much all kids have cellphones now,” she said. “They don’t realize how fast something can happen when you’re driving on the road.”
McGee said parents need to set good driving examples for their children, and that parents also need to monitor how their children drive. According to McGee, many parents think their children are responsible motorists, but WPPD sees speeding or unsafe driving practices all the time.
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