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
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.