It is one of the easiest things to do while driving, but one of the most dangerous—texting.
But Wayne Irving II is trying to make the roads safer. He is CEO of Laguna Niguel-based Textkills.com and Iconosys, which developed SMS Replier and DriveReply, the smartphone app that combats distracted driving.
The textkills.com campaign started in 2009 when Irving saw how addicted his then 15-year-old daughter, Brynna, was to texting, he said.
"She was doing it at the dinner table, and then I started looking at statistics and knew I had to do something," he said. "I think we all know someone who has been involved in some kind of accident that had to do with texting while driving."
So, in May 2010, Irving and his partners began traveling the country via their 36-foot, flat-nosed fleet textkills.com tour bus helping to promote no texting while driving.
"We were invited by the Department of Transportation to visit the White House," Irving said. "It was an amazing cross-country tour that included 26 colleges, three high schools and more in 29 days. It was an effort to bring awareness to the youth that texting while driving is a dangerous and trivial act that can kill within seconds. We brought a lot of attention to the subject, but much more needs to be done."
To date, the bus—wrapped in the textkills.com logo—has more than 15,000 signatures, including staffers of Oprah Winfrey's Harpo studios in Chicago and numerous celebrities: Simon Cowell, Will and Jada Smith, Justin Bieber, Usher, Naomi Campbell and Dr. Oz.
"We are hoping for 100,000 signatures this year," Irving said. "All kinds of companies and organizations rent the bus and use it to bring awareness."
As for signing the bus, Irving says anyone can add a signature by visiting textkills.com. However, there are two requirements:
1. You must agree that texting and/or talking on the phone while driving is bad practice.
2. Refrain from talking and/or texting on the phone while driving over the next 12 months to help textkills.com save some lives.
You will be able to submit your signature via e-mail on the textkills.com website and it will be printed out and posted to the bus by staff.
"Textkills.com’s mission is to yell from the rooftops the dangers of texting while driving," Irving said. "We're trying to get the message out any way we can, and even though we are a grass-roots organization and funds are limited, we are committed to do as much as we can to help stop texting while driving."
Opinions on Texting
It's not uncommon to see people texting while driving the streets of Laguna Niguel.
Allison Elizabeth, 18, said, "I don't feel out of control when I text and drive. I don't take my eyes off the road for very long, so I am not endangering anyone."
Jennifer Kilger, 38, said, "I think it is irresponsible for people to drive while using their phones. It puts themselves at risk and other people around them. Especially with families with children."
Kevin Chiu, 20, said, "I always abide by the law and don't use my phone when I drive. Too many of my friends have gotten in accidents while texting and driving."
Mark Perez, 22, said, "I rear-ended someone once while I was texting. I learned my lesson after that. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye while you're driving."
Facts About Texting While Driving
- 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (source: National Highway Traffic Administration)
- Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18 percent of fatalities involving distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roads and an estimated additional 448,000 people in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (Fatality Analysis Reporting System encyclopedia and the General Estimates System)
- The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group—16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- Using a cell phone use while driving, whether handheld or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
- The world’s infatuation with texting has grown from 4.1 trillion text messages per year in 2008, to more than 1.6 trillion text messages per day in 2010.
Irving warns that the side effects of this practice—death and injury due to car accidents—have yet to be fully realized.
"It seems to be an undeniable trend that the world is becoming more and more dependent on texting as a primary means of communication, particularly in the case of teenagers—who reportedly average over 4,000 text messages per month," he said.
"The growing significance of this 'always-on' aspect of our daily lives, which borders on an addiction for many, is opening up the world’s eyes to the very real dangers of texting while driving."
At a State Level
More and more states are cracking down on the habit of using a mobile device and texting while driving, and a proposed California law will make it all the more difficult for residents to get away with texting or talking from behind the wheel.
The state already has a strict hands-free rule, making it an offense to text or talk on a handheld device while operating a vehicle. Proposed legislation, introduced by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and reflecting similar legislation being implemented throughout the country, would increase fines for violations of the state’s hands-free laws and expands them to include cyclists.
Are you for or against texting? Let us know in comments.