See Firsthand, the Dangers of Texting and Driving

State lawmakers will once again take a look at banning cell phone use while driving.  It's an issue that's also recently come up here, in Lubbock.

Repeatedly, it seems texting while driving is the most common offense - especially for teenagers.  According to the Texas Transportation Institute, a little less than half of teens admit to doing it.  It's a big problem, because many law enforcement officers call it the "New DWI."  In fact, it delays your reaction time the same as having blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08, which is the legal limit to drink and drive.

So we decided to put them to the test, to see how they did on a closed course. 16-year-old's Allison Alexander and Sam Aycock volunteered to drive for us.

We set up a course with the held of TxDOT in the Frenship ISD parking lot.  It was pretty simple - only if you're focused on the road.

"That really opened my eyes," Alexander said as she finished driving through. "It was scary, because I never realized how much I look down when I am on my phone.  Just because the road is not that curvy in Lubbock, Texas... doesn't mean something can't run out in the middle of the street or another car pull out in front of you."

It's a quickly growing problem, according to Cindi Garrett with Drive Trainers in Lubbock.  Garrett's been teaching driver's education for 13 years, and only in the last two did she have to mandate no phones - in class, or the car.

Last year, Garrett says 4% of her students were in a wreck.  That's 62 kids, 21 of which were texting and driving at the time of the accident.

According to TxDOT, there are more than 81,000 wrecks caused by cell phone use.  Hundreds were killed.

"It has to be a personal, moral choice," Garrett said.  "A personal character choice.  That I care about your safety while I'm driving my vehicle, that's a murder weapon, on the roadway next to you."

And to Manuel Delacruz, a TxDOT employee who helped with our course, a hit cone is a deadly noise.

"To tell you the truth, we see a lot of it," he said.  "And as we hear cars zooming by, we happen to glance up from where we're working, and we see the people as they're driving by - and they're on their phones."

"It makes me nervous," said Aycock as he finished the course. "It scares me that I could get hurt, or they could get hurt, or they could hurt someone else."

"I don't think I'm going to be on my phone and driving anymore," Alexander said.

It is against state law for anyone under 18 to even have their phone in the car.

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