By Stephanie Ball
In a courtyard at Brookhaven College, the sound of a face-to-face conversation is masked by the clicking of cell phone keys. Nearby in the west parking lot, a driver checks his phone and speeds through the crosswalk, nearly hitting a pedestrian.
According to www.infographicsshowcase.com, a site for driving statistics, mobile phones are causing more accidents and distractions within the 16-24 year-old age range than within other age ranges. Nearly 51 percent of the younger age group sends text messages or emails while driving.
Terri Edrich, executive director of human resources, brought a No Phone Zone Pledge to Brookhaven in June 2010.
The Pledge began after Monica Taliaferro, former marketing and public information director, had a family friend who died in a crash due to texting while driving.
Edrich said if something is important, she will pull over, because one or two minutes are worth saving a life.
John Klingensmith, Brookhaven Police Department captain, said the Brookhaven police do not have a policy on texting; however, the Farmers Branch Police Department has a city ordinance prohibiting drivers from texting while in a school zone.
“In a perfect world, I would like to see everyone stop using cell phones while driving, or at a minimum, use the wireless headset or Bluetooth,” Klingensmith said.
According to www.yourdigitalspace.com, as text messaging gains popularity, phone calls are becoming less frequent. In 2007, the average phone conversation lasted about 3.13 minutes. In 2009, the average was 2.03 minutes, a record low.
Student Miguel Cardena said he sends 20-30 text messages a day, if not more. “When I get a message I just have to answer back,” Cardena said.
Student Chelsea Carter said she sends text messages all day and sometimes uses text message slang while doing homework.
“If I’m writing an English paper I may put text lingo out of habit, and I think I text more than I talk on the phone,” Carter said.
Drivesafe.ly, a smartphone application that reads text messages and emails out loud, is currently available for free on the Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones.
In June, Governor Rick Perry vetoed a bill to ban text messaging for all drivers. According to www.notextanddrivezone.com, Texas will probably not see a statewide ban until at least 2014.
Edrich said there is a challenge when there are so many who primarily use text lingo for communicating. “If texting continues on this track, in five years we won’t know how to communicate,” Edrich said.