Don’t Text and Drive!

The Department of Transportation released a commercial last week aimed at texting teens and young adults to help curb distracted driving just in time for Distracted Driving Awareness month.

The video starts with three teens happily chatting while driving down a quite suburban street. The driver doesn’t notice a stop sign when she takes her eyes off the road to answer a text message. A semi truck slams into the car. The car rolls over and over again and the kids are tossed around inside the car by the force of the impact in slow motion. When the car finally settles the commercial tells viewers, “If you’re texting, you’re not driving.”

The graphic public-service announcement is in response to the growing problem of distracted driving. In 2011 the number of distracted driving deaths rose to 3,331, a 1.92 percent increase. By contrast, the number of overall traffic fatalities on U.S. roads fell from 32,885 in 2010 to 32,367 in 2011, a 1.5 percent decrease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the DOT is targeting teenagers with the ad, adults should pay attention as well. An AT&T study released last year found that 49 percent of adults admitted to texting while driving, compared to 43 percent of teens.

And while texting-and-driving deaths are a senseless waste of life, cell phones aren’t responsible for the majority of distracted driving deaths. In fact, a study from the Erie Insurance Group found 12 percent of fatal crashes involved a cell phone, while the vast majority of distracted-driving deaths – 62 percent – were due to daydreaming drivers.