Monday, October 13, 2008

Texting takes off but has perils

Texting takes off but has perils
Paul Gilster
Published: Oct 01, 2008 12:30 AM
What's better than talking on telephones in public places? Cell phone addicts already know the answer -- sending text messages.
In June, Americans sent 75 billion text messages, an increase of more than 160 percent from the previous June. Texting is paying off royally for carriers, who have boosted the cost of sending messages without a texting plan 100 percent over the past two years.
They're now offering plans for unlimited texting running $20 per month on top of the normal phone charges.
If it seems unbelievable that mobile subscribers send and receive 357 text messages per month (according to Nielsen Mobile), the consequences make the statistic seem more ominous than trendy. The recent commuter train accident in California might have been caused by an engineer who was texting en route. A study by Britain's Royal Automotive Club found that reaction times of texting drivers are worse than those who are legally drunk.
Let's couple that with another appalling result: Nearly 50 percent of 18- to 24-year-old drivers say they text while they drive. Texting means taking hands off the wheel, using your thumbs to manipulate a tiny keypad, and trying to read text on a tiny screen. It also involves putting your brain into lockdown while you try to figure out what you want to text next.
Drivers yakking on cell phones are enough of a hazard. When will we get smart and ban hand-held phone use in moving vehicles?

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