Program Urges Drivers to Stop Texting Behind the Wheel

Published 09/19 2012 02:18PM

Updated 01/22 2013 03:02PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It's been making headlines for years now: a problem with young drivers using their cell phones, and sending text messages, behind the wheel.

"When a person drives and they are a teenager - clear up until their 34th birthday - the most common way they're going to die is in their car.  It's very important that we target that audience first," said Sgt. Sheldon Lyon from the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Ad campaigns, presentations, and websites have popped up nationwide to join the fight against what has become a deadly problem.

"It's an unsafe activity for anybody behind the wheel, no matter what the age," Lyon said.

It's not just young people sharing this trend.

Earlier this year, Missouri lawmakers approved legislation prohibiting professional drivers from using cell phones while in their trucks.

To comply with this new law (and likely to simply keep their drivers and those around them safe), trucking companies like R&W Tow and Recovery in St. Joseph have new rules for their employees.

Rick Kamler, president of R&W, has provided his drivers with Bluetooth devices for hands-free use of their cell phones.

He knows using a phone is sometimes an integral part of the tow truck business, but recognizes the need for laws limiting their use in the trucks.

"Even using a phone on a Bluetooth is still a distraction.  So you have to be so careful with it.  I still require my guys to do it when they're not moving," Kamler said.  "If they finish a job and drop a vehicle, I'd prefer that they'd call before they ever move.  Texting?  Absolutely not.  Not in my trucks."

For anyone that has a texting problem, there is a pledge, sponsored by AT&T.

By going to their special webpage, one can pledge never to think about texting while behind the wheel, and publish the pledge on social media.

Those on the front lines of this fight say it's a small step in the right direction.

"We find out that if we can educate children, teach youngsters before they're adults, they'll take those habits into adulthood, and that's what we're hoping," Sgt. Lyon said.

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