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Guest Opinion: Texting while driving; it can wait

By Dominique King

A child will never be the same. A child is now without a mother.
This is the price you could pay for a simple text containing “Oh my gosh!” “Ily2” or even an emoji.
Unfortunately, this is a very possible scenario for a teen mother in Springfield who makes the life or death decision to type four characters to her boyfriend of two weeks — a text that never will make it through.
Smash!
A Ford F150 plummets into a small, already damaged Impala. A 1-year-old’s head is whipped around so quickly it causes bleeding and a concussion.
The child will never see again. The child will never speak. The child will never feel the embrace of his mother again.
In addition to the fact that the young woman had her eyes off the road, managed to hit the car in front of her while going 50 mph — 10 miles over the speed limit — and pushed it through the red light, she also wore no seat belt and the child was not in the correct car seat for his age.
The young woman was thrown from her vehicle. She died from hitting the road and was then run over twice.
The child was torn from his seat belt and thrown to the floor of the car. Upon finding him, police discovered he had two broken arms, was missing almost all his teeth and there was blood pouring from his ears. But he was alive.
These injuries were caused because a young woman couldn’t wait five minutes to send the text that read: “Ha-ha.”
Luckily, this is just fiction, but things like this do really happen.
Now, let’s turn the tables. You’re the driver of the F150. You run the red light. You take the mother away from a 1-year-old boy. You cause him injuries he will never heal from. He doesn’t remember anything he learned in his first year of life.
What did your text contain? “I love you” — a text you sent to your own son.
When your phone buzzes or makes a little sound signaling that you have received a text, just think: Is this text worth my life? Is it worth the life of another? Is it worth totaling my car? Is it really worth losing anything?
The answer is — No! It can wait. It can always wait.
In 2011, at least 23 percent of car accidents involved cell phones, which equals 1.3 million cell phone-related crashes. Texting makes crashes 23 times more likely. Fifty-five percent of teens say it’s easy to text and drive, but they are also reported to spend 10 percent of their time driving outside of their lane.
Too many tragedies have happened because of texting behind the wheel. People are dying and being seriously injured for absolutely nothing!
Consider the risks. Think out the scenarios. Be proactive.
You wouldn’t want this to happen to your sister, brother, cousin, friend or child, and you definitely don’t want it to happen to you.
No matter what age you are, stop the distractions. Don’t text and drive.
Take the pledge to never text and drive at ItCanWait.com.

Dominique King, 16, a junior at Study Alternative High School in Springfield, is the winner of the Missouri Press Association/AT&T It Can Wait writing contest. She attends an alternative high school so her young son can be in daycare there. Texting and driving is a very personal issue for her, and her essay represents a genuine fear for her life and her son’s.

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