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Texting While Driving Will Cost You More Of Your Gay Money

by Ric Reily
Thursday Jan 24, 2013

More and more the media is trilling with mutterings about limiting or eliminating texting while driving. Florida legislators are being presented with [another] bill attempting to limit texting while driving by younger drivers; though texting while driving by any driver can be a deadly distraction.

Being gay and gorgeous with dates to make and a social life to manage does not make you immune to the potentially deadly effects of texting and driving. Most of us have learned to leave the gay club with a designated driver and the same holds true with texting.

Statistics have been showing for some time that texting while driving has a similar accident record to driving under the influence. Driving in Wilton Manors and South Florida behind or near someone who is texting and driving certainly bears out the similarity. According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more than 3,000 deaths are directly attributable to distracted driving crashes in one year. The NHTSA website says you are 23 times more likely to crash if you text while you drive.

Utah passed their texting while driving ban in 2009, and that law goes further than most and is unquestionably the toughest in the nation. Drivers in Utah found guilty of texting while driving and causing an accident that kills or injures someone can be sentenced to up to 15 years in jail. The Utah statute puts multitasking drivers in the same inherently reckless category as impaired drivers. Seems at least one state has stepped up to the true nature of the problem.

Many other texting while driving laws fall short because they're secondary in nature, allowing a police officer to only issue a ticket if a driver has been pulled over for another violation such as speeding or driving under the influence. The situation is also complicated by differing standards among jurisdictions, some provide for warnings to be given, some bundle the texting ban into a wider distracted driving law, and some do not even collect data on the offenses.

It's difficult to get reliable data on the true cost of distracted driving accidents because police departments don't always note the root cause of accidents. Though texting is an obvious distraction, speaking on the phone, changing a radio station or even reaching for a cup of coffee are all driver distractions that can lead to fatal results. Generally investigations into fatal or serious property damage accidents are the only ones delved into deeply enough to identify driver distraction as the root cause.

Meanwhile, there is some concern that driving while texting laws may actually be contributing to the problem; a study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that in states where texting bans were in effect, crash rates rose in 75% of those states. One reason may be that police now report seeing more drivers holding phones below window level, taking their attention away from driving and their eyes off the road for even longer periods of time to avoid being caught with their fingers on the keypad. Don't get caught with your LGBTQIA eyes and fingers on your keypad while those happy fingers and eyes should be on the wheel and the road.

Insurance companies are waking up to the realities. Insurers want to see more action to stop texting while driving, and they want more money from you when you break a texting ban. More companies are telling you that if you text and drive you will have higher insurance costs. Insurance companies are getting behind texting while driving bans because they know the activity is costing them money and they want legal coverage to raise your rates if you break these laws.

A violation of a texting while driving law, just as a citation for any other moving violation, can contribute to a pattern of behavior that insurance companies look at to determine your insurance premiums. More negative reports on your driving record will result in your paying more for insurance. Texting while driving bans give insurance companies one more finger into your gay wallet.

In a busy metropolitan area with ceaseless traffic and distractions without end, it is incumbent on every driver to maintain a complete focus on driving and their surroundings all the time. In the blink of an eye, less than the time required reaching for that cup of coffee your life can be changed forever or even ended. And that would be sad because we like you just the way you are.

While most of us support any measure that promotes safe driving habits, in the end it all comes down to personal choice. Drivers who insist on texting and driving will do so whether there is a law against it or not, just as speeders do now. As I have done and I encourage all the greater LGBTQIA family to do, our best hope is that drivers will simply make the choice to hang up and drive.

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