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Distracted Driving A Deadly Issue

July 30, 2012, 6:35 AM by Lindsey Branwall

Distracted Driving A Deadly Issue

Wednesday's deadly crash that has a 21-year-old facing possible life in prison is bringing awareness to distracted driving. According to AT&T, you're 23 times more likely to be in a crash if you send a text message while driving.

"We used to say, 'don't do drugs and alcohol and drive.' And now we say, 'don't text and drive," Sioux Falls resident Steve Beier said.

Beier knows the city of Sioux Falls well.  And last week's deadly crash was a topic of discussion at the breakfast table. He's also seen the slow reaction of those who are texting behind the wheel.

"They're looking like this on their phone or they're at a stop sign and they're looking down and the light changes and they're still sitting at the light," Beier says.

He hopes his children and grandchildren learn from last week's crash at 26th Street and Minnesota Avenue where a driver is suspected of killing a motorcyclist while speeding and texting.

"A lot of people think, 'it's not going to happen to me.' Unfortunately it's happening more and more," AAA Director of Administration Marilyn Buskohl said.

And officials say young drivers are the most vulnerable to distracted driving crashes.

For the Proulx family, the same issue has hit them close to home as well. Their 15-year-old daughter saw the dangers of distracted driving first-hand when her classmate was involved in a crash. Now she's trying to learn from it.

"Don't even have the phone on; put the phone in the glove box," father Ed Proulx said.

According to AT&T, nearly half of teens surveyed have admitted to texting and driving, while more than 60 percent find it acceptable to text at a stop light.  Buskohl says that's where the trouble sparks.

"The danger lies in thinking that you're okay to send that text or look at your emails when really you're not. Any distraction even for five seconds can have deadly consequences," Buskohl said.

Buskohl says last week's crash in Sioux Falls is a clear example of that.  She expects more legislation to be pushed in the area, if not the state, because of the deadly outcome of a crash.

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