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Jessica Melando, Letter of Affiliation

Jessica Melando, Letter of Affiliation

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Published by: PublicWriting on May 04, 2011
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05/04/2011

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April 18, 2010TxtResponsibly.orgc/o Pica Design, LLC146 Lincolnville AvenueBelfast, Maine 04915Dear Founders of TxtResponsibly.org,I am currently finishing up my junior year at the University of Rhode Island, and this semester during my public writing class, I have been researching and formulating my proposal on puttingan end to texting while driving. I am a proud advocate for your organization and have taken theoath on your website. Texting while driving has been a huge concern to me ever since my friendwas killed in a car accident caused by distracted driving during my senior year of high school. Ifeel as though many do not realize the how detrimental the consequences of texting while drivinghave become.As new technologies evolve, new generations begin driving; texting may seem likea second nature for some teens, which is the reason why so many begin the habit of texting whiledriving.As your organization is aware, when using a cell phone while driving, one is incapable of multitasking and therefore has the concentration of someone driving above the legal alcohollimit. According to distraction.gov, ³in 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and anestimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported as a causeof distracted driving.´ This is a large number of deaths for people to keep ignoring. ³The proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent in2005 to 16 percent in 2009.´ (distraction.gov). It¶s apparent that we must work together in order to decrease these percentages.Rhode Island was the 19
th
state to pass the bill on no texting while driving, however I believe this bill is not strong enough and does not prevent distracted driving. According to Title 31, thewritten text of Rhode Island¶s law on texting while operating a motor vehicle, if a citizen iscaught texting and driving their first offense is an $85 ticket, their second offense is a $100 ticketand their third offense is a $125 ticket. The only groups that are prohibited from the use of cell phones while driving are drivers under the age of 18 and school bus operators. Although theselaw changes are a start for Rhode Island¶s fight against distracted driving, the law is too broadand is not being strictly enforced. Since 2009, drivers in Rhode Island have been fined over $11,000, but do these numbers add up? According to eyewitnessnews.com, 27 Rhode Islandcommunities wrote a combined 185 tickets for texting and driving through the end of last year.Larger R.I. cities seem to have the most records of fines given for texting and driving, includingWarwick (17 tickets), Providence (12 tickets) and Johnston (11 tickets). However, there still arenine other communities that have not cited any drivers for texting.I am writing to you today in hopes receiving help in raising awareness and change on textingwhile driving for the state of Rhode Island. Your organizations website includes informativefacts on distracted driving, and even allows followers the opportunity to share their own stories.
 
In order to reduce injuries and fatalities caused by texting while driving, the state of RhodeIsland needs to focus on raising awareness.I propose that the state¶s police department needs to put forth more effort in catching thoseengaging in this act and the state needs to reword their written law by adding more restrictions.It¶s up to the police departments to find and ticket those texting while driving; therefore the police must strengthen their efforts. According to Officer Delaney "It takes a lot of observationon the trooper's part, the signals that someone is texting behind the wheel, such as erratic drivingand weaving between lanes, are similar to those that show a motorist is drunk.´ When a citizen is pulled over for texting while driving, the officer can ask to look at his or her phone; if he or sherefuses, law enforcement can check the person's phone bill to see whether the driver was textingat the time he or she was pulled over. The police enforcement should use this helpful approach totrack those texting and driving and to make sure those in violation of the law are served justice.If a driver is given a ticket for texting while driving the texting offenses are not added tomotorists' driving records or reported to their insurance companies. Once a driver pays their fine,it¶s as though they never received a ticket. The state should reconsider raising fines,incorporating such sanctions in the citizens driving records and reporting it to their insurancecompany, in order to increase penalties of getting caught. Rhode Island needs to ban the use of all electronic devices while driving. The law explicitly explains the types of communications itlimits include, "text messages, instant messages, electronic messages or e-mails." The law doesnot make it illegal for someone to have a conversation on their cell phone while driving, whichhas been proven to be just as hazardous as texting while driving.In recent news, an application has been developed for cell phones that may result in the demiseof texting while driving. According to an article found at abcnews.com, ³A state lawmaker has proposed legislation to require those caught texting while driving to install such a device. Theequipment is wired to a vehicle's engine and alerts the driver's cell phone when the engine is on.Software installed on the phone then disables texting or email capabilities. Phones without thesoftware aren't affected.´ This application is a helpful tool that Rhode Island should incorporatein their rewritten law on texting while driving. If passed by legislation, Rhode Island may be thefirst state to require the use of this application for those found in violation of the law. Althoughthere have been some defects with this new application, it is the start of a productive solution.I know your organization is busy and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my proposedsolutions on ending the hazards caused by texting while driving in Rhode Island. I hope to work with your organization and the state of Rhode Island in order to raise awareness and to changefundamental policies. We must teach citizens to keep their life in their hands, and their phones intheir pockets.Sincerely,Jessica Melando21 Westmorland St. Narragansett, RI 02882

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