Samantha Friedman, Columnist

BRB. TTYL. G2G. These are all familiar terms to our generation. Most of us can’t remember life without our cell phones. Many of us probably say we feel “naked” without them, which is why they go everywhere we go — and most of the time in our hand, pocket or cup holder for easy access. At any given moment during daylight hours over 800,000 vehicles are driven by someone using a cell phone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).

Many of us are so engrossed in conversations via texting all the time that the thought of putting our phone down is difficult. We walk to class texting or talking on our phones. I’m sure there has to be someone who has walked into something because they forgot to look up enough. But where should the line be drawn? Getting into your car should probably be the place to stop texting, emailing and BBM’ing. Even research done about talking on the phone using a hands-free versus handheld doesn’t show a big difference in the cognitive distraction, according to the NHTSA.

People all across the country seem to forget what a distraction cell phones are in general, especially while driving. It’s good to see many states creating hands-free laws for talking on your cell phone and slowly texting laws are also being implemented too. But can they really be enforced?

In 2009 5,474 people were killed in car crashes involving driver distraction, according to police-reported data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Automotive Sampling. This accounts for 16 percent of total fatalities. Just driving around Oxford I’ve noticed people texting or talking on their cell phones and sometimes even eating while they’re driving, too. Talking on your cell phone alone is enough of a distraction; adding anything else seems ridiculous.

Of all people killed in distracted driving related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction, according to NHTSA. Maybe the risk isn’t publicized enough or people are willing to take the risk, but you should be able to stop texting while you drive to run errands. For long rides too, just don’t respond until you’re at a rest stop or call them. I know many people don’t have a hands-free device, but it’s worth getting. In most states you can get ticketed for being on your phone and it will save your life.

Ohio doesn’t currently have any bans for distracted driving according to the NHTSA. It is one of only a few states. Illinois has a ban on all cell phone use, handheld and hands-free for bus drivers and novice (under 19) drivers, as well as a texting ban, according to the NHTSA. Indiana also has a ban on cell phone use for novice (under 18) drivers and a texting ban. Michigan has a ban on texting for all drivers and Kentucky has a ban on cell phone use for bus and novice (under 18) drivers and a ban on texting for all drivers, according to the NHTSA.

Most states have at least a ban on all cell phone use for at least some drivers and many states are starting to ban texting for all drivers. When all these laws started coming out, I remember not being really sure what the exact laws are. It’s good to know though, especially for the state you live in and where you travel by car. It will not only save your life, but will save you from a ticket and fine. Even if you live in a state with no laws you should really still not text and only use your phone hands-free, I don’t think anyone wants to risk their life over a text message.

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