I’m a technology guy. Knowing as much as possible about the latest developments is part and parcel of what I do for a living. Being at least minimally conversant and able when it comes to tech devices is part of the guru mojo. 

But I must confess one serious shortcoming: I am a really slow texter. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to getting my message across in text on my mobile phone, my fingers turn into sausages and my brain into mush when I try to accomplish this task at any more than a snail’s pace. 

So the thought of trying to text someone while zipping down the New Jersey Turnpike at 65-plus dodging tractor trailers and assorted NASCAR wannabees is, well, unthinkable. 
For a sizeable portion of the driving public, however, it seems this is not the case. I refer to the “Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report,” a recent survey from Vlingo Corp., that found that despite driving while texting (DWT) bans in seven states and the District of Columbia as well as reports of accidents caused by DWT, 26% of mobile phone users continue to text behind the wheel.

Drivers in Tennessee are the worst offenders, the company said, with 42% admitting to DWT, while Arizona has the lowest percentage (18.8%). The Vlingo Report also revealed that text messaging has grown steadily over the past 12 months across all age groups, with nearly 60% of mobile phone users now texting, compared to 54% in 2008. The report is based on a survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. consumers and was fielded by independent panel research firm Toluna.

So I wonder: How exactly are these bone-headed drivers doing this? I mean, usually when I text, I am using two hands and staring at the display. On top of that, I usually have to put on my reading glasses to see exactly what I’m typing (those over 40 will empathize). Then again, my technique is hardly state of the art, so let’s assume they don’t have to look at the display very much, and that they can somehow contrive to text with one hand while steering with the other. Are we to assume that these texting savants are safe to be around at high speeds? 

Now don’t get me wrong. I have seen sights on the highways that would curl an underwriter’s hair—or straighten it, if it was already curly. I once saw a woman carefully applying her makeup using the rear view mirror as she rocketed along at over 70 mph. (I assume she was steering with her knees, but I can’t even say for sure that she was steering.) 

Much as I admire the multitasking skill of those who engage in DWT while managing to avoid mangling themselves or other drivers, I would personally feel a lot safer if everyone who was caught doing this would lose their driver’s license on the spot for at least six months. I would get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that junior would have to text mom and dad on the spot to get a ride home (did I mention that in the survey almost 60% of those ages 16 to 19 admit to DWT?). 

I’m also thinking that cleansing the roads of nimble-fingered but distracted drivers might help keep auto insurance rates under control. I know. I’m a dreamer. 

Maybe I’m overreacting. Would anyone out there care to defend this practice? If so, let me know your reasons.

Ara C. Trembly is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a noted speaker on and longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services. He can be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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