Nicholette Pomon, of East Brandywine Township, Pennsylvania, was only 17 years old when she and her nearly full-term baby were pronounced dead. The cause of their death: distracted driving.
The driver, Meghan L. Obendorfer, 18, was speeding on a winding, slippery road when she misjudged a corner and collided head-on with a school bus. Meghan was charged with homicide by vehicle. The worst part of her ruling was being charged with the murder of her best friend and her best friend’s child.
During the investigation, police found that Obendorfer had received 39 text messages and calls up until the accident.
Laws are being put into effect to help contain the problem. Currently there are 18 states that have banned texting while driving.
Pennsylvania currently has no state-wide texting laws enforced. However October 5 through the 11 was “Heads up Driving Week.” This was a “protest” to support a no-texting while driving law. People were asked to drive distraction-free for one week.
Texting was first used in 1992, it has recently become the main mode of communication between teenagers. Unfortunately it’s being done while driving.
In 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed by distracted driving.
Penn Manor teens admit they participate in this risky activity.
“It’s really bad, but still I know people do it,” said Zach Buterbaugh a Penn Manor senior.
CTIA- The Wireless Association is an international industry trade group, originally known as the Cellular Telephone Industries Association, reported that 158 billion text messages were sent in the USA in 2006.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2006 that 78 percent of crashes were from a driver being distracted within three seconds of their crash. Of those crashes, at least 6 percent were from a driver talking or dialing on their phone.
“If a driver’s eyes are away from the roadway for two seconds or more in a six-second window, their risk of being involved in a crash is two times higher than an alert driver,” said Charles Klauer, a senior researcher at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Lynn Torbert, a Penn Manor senior, said, “Passing this law is actually, probably a good idea, it’s (texting while driving) dangerous yet many people do it.”
A recent poll of 110 juniors and seniors at Penn Manor High School revealed that 75 percent believe that the law should be passed, and only 25 percent said that they think banning texting while driving is a bad idea.
According to a Nationwide Insurance study, nearly 20 percent of drivers are sending or receiving text messages, while driving.
Though she has never had an accident, one Penn Manor student who wants to remain unnamed said, “I’ll be driving and looking down at my phone, and when I look back up, there will be a car right in front of me and I’ll have to slam on the brakes.”
Abby Newport, a Penn Manor junior said, “I text while driving, but I’m trying to stop. It’s really bad and dangerous.”
According to an online poll, www.suite101.com, 37% of teenagers think that texting while driving is extremely dangerous; yet 50% of teenagers admitted to texting while driving.
“It’s my car, they’ can’t tell me that I can’t text,” said Penn Manor senior, Terrence Milligan.
Program Principal, Matt Sundeen, of the National Conference of State Legislatures said, “Certainly, texting is the issue du jour this year in the legislatures.”
Currently, president Obama has endorsed a minor texting law. Federal employees cannot have their cell phones in use, while on the road. The ban will also include sending e-mails, using instant messaging programs, and obtaining navigational information, while driving. The order will impact nearly three million civilian employees. Some law enforcement and national security workers will be exempt.
Another Penn Manor student who wishes not to be named said, “even if the law is passed, I’m still going to text and drive; I’ll just learn to hide it better.”
Abby Newport agreed.
“I’d still text and drive, I mean it’s not like I’m going to get caught every time,” she said.
By: Lyta Ringo