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Texting & killing is not an accident

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POSTED June 15, 2014 11:59 p.m.

OMG do u believe this?

More than 1,000 pedestrians each year sustain serious injuries while walking and texting.

So far they’ve fallen into manholes, stumbled into fountains, walked over the edge of cliffs, stepped off piers, tumbled down stairs and fallen onto tracks.

In California alone since last year there have been at least three people killed by trains that authorities believe were texting or using their cellphones in some manner when they walked into the path of a locomotive.

The aftermath is even more frightening. The parents of the 15-year-old girl that fell into a manhole as she was texting and walking is suing New York City. Parents of one teen that walked into the path of a train in the Bay Area while taking a shortcut and texting demanded that Union Pacific create barriers along its tracks to prevent a tragic repeat of zombie texting.

If people are going to insist on texting while doing other things such as walking or driving then they are agreeing to pay the price for their own stupidity and/or carelessness.

Texting is also expensive in spite of the unlimited “free” texting many wireless carriers offer today.

A few months ago a friend was T-boned on South Main Street by someone who was texting as she drove and failed to react quickly enough to a light that likely turned amber just as he looked down and was red for a few seconds when he slammed into the driver’s door.

The message that couldn’t wait ended up costing in excess of $10,000 when all of the damage was added up.

You see drivers texting all the time as well as pedestrians even as they are crossing busy streets. Lately, there are more and more bicyclists being spotted texting with both hands as they pedal down Manteca streets. The scariest so far was a bicyclist texting while heading south on Powers Avenue, absentmindedly swerving in front of a car stopped at Hutchings Avenue whose driver had fortunately noticed him earlier and then proceeding in front of a northbound car on Powers Avenue as he continued toward Curran Grove Park. He never looked up once.

Texting in itself isn’t the problem. It’s walking, bicycling or driving while distracted,

A prime example was Saturday afternoon on Spreckels Avenue. I was driving southbound in the curb lane. Had the driver of the car alongside of me had been fiddling with a radio, reaching for something or — heaven forbid — texting there would have been a serious three-car accident.

A van turning into the turn lane from Phoenix Drive apparently turned too wide and either crossed into the inside southbound lane or looked as if he was going to do so. That prompted the driver next to me to take evasive action. I saw his car coming toward me and immediately started braking and turned toward the curb. The driver next to me had the presence of mind to notice the van had started turning away and quickly got out of my path.

We all missed hitting each other by a matter of inches. The worse that happened besides frayed nerves was my leaving some rubber just past the entrance to J&M Equipment.

Countless near misses like that happen every minute of every day. They don’t graduate into crashes because at least some of the drivers were treating driving for what it is — a discipline that requires your undivided attention.

As it is, no one pays 100 percent attention to driving, bicycling or even walking. It is why anything that serves as a deliberate distraction should be avoided at all costs. Texting while driving falls into that category.

The horrible price of distracted driving while texting leading the list can’t be stressed enough.

Among the cost of drivers viewing being behind the wheel nonchalantly is a 14-year-old Manteca boy who was killed and a classmate who is spending the summer in a hospital instead of gearing up for another season of football.

The 19-year-old driver who said she was reaching for the phone when she veered off East Highway 120 in April and struck four teens walking back to Manteca is being prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter.

That 19 year-old could be you.

That 14 year-old could be your son.

The football player could be your brother.

Every time you get behind the wheel remember there is a high price for driving distracted. Hitting someone while texting isn’t an accident — its gross negligence.

Put the phone out of reach. Don’t gawk at the scenery.

Drive like you are on a mission to make sure sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers get home safe and alive.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

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