Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: texting

May
19th

An epidemic is killing American teenagers: Texting while driving

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

If a superbug were killing more than 3,000 American teenagers a year and seriously sickening more than 300,000, parents would be screaming for something to be done to protect their children.

But there’s no superbug. What’s killing and injuring teens in such extraordinary numbers is texting while driving. They’re now more at risk from being killed while texting than while drunk.

Many of these teens are only following their parents’ examples of using their cellphones while driving, either for making calls or texting. One-third of adults 30 to 65 admit to texting while driving.

Teens are already inexperienced drivers. Combine that with taking their eyes off the road for a few seconds to type out a message and it’s easy to see why so many young people are becoming statistics. The number of crash-related fatalities in the U.S. had been declining in recent years, but those numbers are on the rise – no doubt in part because more people are texting while driving.

While drinking and driving has fallen among teens by 54 percent since 1991, texting has exploded in the last seven years. Almost half of teenage boys, 45 percent of teen girls and a staggering 58 percent of 18-year-olds admit to texting while driving.

Laws against texting while driving don’t appear to be having much effect; teens text just as much in states with texting bans as in states that don’t have one. The reason likely is that it’s hard for law enforcement officers to catch texters in the act. But when they do, they should not hesitate to issue tickets. Forget the warning; a hefty ticket has a better chance of getting their attention.

What more can be done? Teens tend to think that they are invincible, that terrible things happen to others, not to them.
Read more »

March
31st

Driver’s hands belong on the wheel, not texting

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

When it comes to distracted driving, texting-obsessed teens are the problem, right?

That’s only partially correct. It turns out, they’re just modeling their elders’ behavior. Almost half of adults say they text and drive, even though they’re well aware that it’s considered dangerous. A slightly lower percentage of teens, 43 percent, admit to driving while texting.

But that actually may be a bigger problem because teens aren’t as experienced behind the wheel as older drivers; the under-20 age group has the highest proportion of distracted-driving fatal crashes, says the Centers for Disease Control. And while a slightly lower percentage of teens than adults might text, those who do tend to text a lot. Teens are more likely than adults to expect immediate responses – and to immediately respond to text messages they receive, even if they’re driving.

How dangerous is texting while driving? Read more »

Aug.
17th

Brilliant idea for your dining pleasure

Here’s an idea I’d like to see catch on: According to the Los Angeles Times, an L.A. restaurant is offering 5 percent discounts to diners who agree to check their digital devices at the door.

Eva Restaurant owner Mark Gold said his goal is to minimize distracted dining.

My question: Is there any way to apply this to distracted driving? Like offer a discount on car insurance to drivers who agree to install a cell phone signal jammer in their car? I know such devices exist from watching TV shows like “24.”

Anyway, here’s the Times’ article. Read more »