Text this (and go to jail)

Avoid-texting-while-driving

“It was only for a hundreds yards or so that I wasn’t watching the road officer.  But look how important it was I sent my girl ‘URQT. B home sn. LO’.”

It seems silly, but studies show that more and more of us are distracted by our phones while driving, most dangerously while texting.

From the Salt Lake City Community College News:

According to a recent study by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year. 

A study by University of Utah, scientists found that chatty motorists are less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08. Psychologists at the University of Utah say that texting behind the wheel is 50 percent more dangerous than talking on the phone.

In Utah, a deadly crash in 2007 led to a recent law making texting while driving illegal.  Reggie Shaw, the man texting while driving, killed two people while being distracted.  He was a strong advocate for creating a law in Utah with stiff penalties (see NY Times Article).  The new law has penalties starting at $750 fine and three months in jail  up to 15 years.  They are the strictest laws in the country to date.

Preparation:

  • Ask students to give their initial opinion about this law (maybe voting with different colored index cards, or set up a Four Corners activity to get them up and moving).
  • Have students read the article or listen to the NPR Story.

Discussion Topics:

  1. What do you believe about the danger of texting while driving?
  2. Should their be a law prohibiting this behavior? Why or Why not?
  3. If there should be a law, what should the penalty be?  Why do you think the penalty you’ve chosen will change the behavior of drivers?
  4. What are the challenges to creating a laws to dictate behavior?  What challenges do you see on enforcing this law?
  5. What are the most effective ways of guiding the behavior of people?

(For a format, you might choose to do a basic debate, splitting the advisory into groups to discuss the case and argue the idea of a law.)

Art Extension:

  • Have students make an add campaign for changing the behavior about texting while driving. Identify an audience, strategy, tagline, and art concept.

Resources:

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