The length of four football fields – that’s how far you would travel at highway speed in the time it takes to read this message.  

The above message was written on my monthly E-Z Pass statement, and it is worth repeating here.  As more drivers use smart phones and other electronic devices, distracted driving has become a serious hazard on the nation’s roadways.  Alexander Heit, a 22-year old University of Northern Colorado student, recently died in a car crash while typing a text message.  His final text cut off in mid-sentence.  Before he could send it, police say that he drifted into oncoming traffic, jerked the steering wheel and went off the road, rolling his car.  He died shortly after the crash.  His final text message is a haunting reminder of the dangers of distracted driving.  Mr. Heit’s parents are hoping that a photo of the text on his iPhone will serve as a reminder to drivers to not text and drive.  The photo shows that Mr. Heit was responding to a friend by typing “Sounds good my man, see ya soon, ill tw” before he crashed.  Witnesses told police that Mr. Heit appeared to have his head down when he began drifting into the oncoming lane in an area near where the University of Northern Colorado is located.  Police report that an oncoming driver slowed and moved over just before Mr. Heit looked up and jerked the steering wheel.  Police say that Mr. Heit had a spotless driving record and was not speeding.  Mr. Heit’s mother released a statement through the police: “In a split second you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone who loves you.” 

If this story is not enough to deter you from texting while driving, keep in mind that doing so is illegal.  Legislation sponsored by State Senator Fred H. Madden requiring signage informing drivers of the law that prohibits texting while driving was unanimously approved in late May by the New Jersey State Senate Transportation Committee.  Under the bill, S-2406, the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Director of Division of Highway and Traffic Safety, would be required to erect appropriate signage throughout the state informing motorists that texting while driving is prohibited.  Under current state law, it is unlawful to send a text message via a wireless telephone or electronic communication device when operating a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway.