According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight people every day in the United States are killed in car crashes involving distracted drivers.
As of September 2017, it is illegal to engage in electronic messaging which can be classified as reading, writing, or texting while driving in Texas according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Violators can face a $200 fine and misdemeanor.
“Texting while driving can be a class C misdemeanor, so you can get a citation for that distracted driving and depending on how people view distracted driving, you can drive in where there’s an obstruction in sight. “said Capt. Amy Ivey of the Texas Tech University Police Department. . “There’s a bunch of general terms you can start with, but the biggest problem with distracted driving will be the new law that just passed in the legislative which is the text and driving.
The TTUPD has jurisdiction anywhere in the state where the university owns leases, rents, or owns property. This means that TTUPD officers have jurisdiction throughout Lubbock County and do not need to be on campus to arrest you. Ivey said she believes Tech owns leases, rents, or property in all but four counties in the state, allowing nearly total state jurisdiction for TTUPD officers. .
“I always say that even if it takes a split second to change radio stations or to look down, it also takes a split second for something to jump in front of your vehicle,” Ivey said. “It also takes a fraction of a second for something to happen that changes your life or the lives of others, whereas if you’re going to answer a text or look at your phone to change music, it can wait until you come to an outcome. Complete. Stop. It’s not worth risking your life or anyone else’s life just for that split second.
According to the CDC, 25 percent of distracted drivers in the United States involved in fatal car crashes were young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 in 2018. Nine percent of all teens who died in motor vehicle crashes were killed in accidents involving distracted driving.
“Getting from point A to point B on campus won’t take you that long,” Ivey said. “It’s best to have your full attention on the road or walk to class to make sure you get there safely.”
If students see a vehicle causing a distraction that could cause wreckage or harm themselves or others, they should try to get a specific and accurate description of the vehicle and/or license plate number and to call the police.
“We can pull over this vehicle to make sure nothing happens,” Ivey said. “As long as we get a description or a license plate, and we know we’re stopping the right vehicle, we can always talk to them.”
“The biggest thing is you just have to be aware of your surroundings because you never know what’s going to happen,” Ivey said. “Safety is the most important thing when it comes to your safety here at Tech.”
Kinesiology student Valeria Ortega was involved in a car accident just outside the Tech campus. Ortega was driving her roommate’s car after dropping her roommate off at a bar when she decided to cross campus and was stopped at a traffic light on University and Marsha Sharp’s frontage road.
“I was waiting at a red light, so I stopped and everything and the light just turned green, and my foot was off the brake and all of a sudden this girl in the back ends me from behind and because my foot wasn’t on the brake it threw me in the middle of the intersection.
The trunk of the car Ortega was driving was badly damaged, and the front of the other car was hit by fluid leaking from the car.
The girl who terminated Ortega tried to run away, but Ortega had already obtained his driver’s license number and insurance and called the police.
Ortega said police later determined the girl was intoxicated while driving the vehicle.
“By being drunk, you’re always distracted,” Ortega said. “She probably wasn’t paying attention to everything she was supposed to be.
Ortega said that when something distracts you from driving, texting, or being impaired by a substance, you’re not only putting yourself at risk, but you’re also putting other people at risk.
“Just be aware of what you’re doing on the road,” Ortega said. “Why would you want to risk something potentially deadly to yourself or anyone else?” I still kinda have that mentality, like hey be careful on the road, but ever since I had the accident it made me realize what people can cause.
Ortega said she would say it’s hypocritical of her to say that no one should participate in distracted driving because everyone does at some point.
“Do I think everyone should be more careful about this?” said Ortega. “Absolutely. It doesn’t have to end fatally, but it has the potential to be so. I think we should all make a better effort to stay focused on driving and stay off (phones) as much as possible.”