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Texting While Driving Gets a New Awareness Method

11-26-13

By Christine Valdez
Web Production Assistant

Reading material and courses may exist to teach about dangers on the road, but the latest way to raise awareness may be more lyrical.

In an effort to create a new teaching method and awareness on the dangers of using cell phones behind the wheel, Greg McDonald, a West Milford native, has taken his interest in music and turned it into a message to reach young drivers. Hoping to get the message across, McDonald wrote a musical PSA on smartphones, texting and teen drivers and produced a video to go along with it.

McDonald said he has witnessed accidents with people using their phones. He uses those experiences and news as an inspiration for music.

“The idea of writing a song about the danger of texting and driving just came to me,” said McDonald.

Greg McDonald of West Milford wrote a song as a PSA to highlight the dangers of driving while using a cell phone.

Over the years, McDonald says he has seen the evolution of technology and that it has changed for the good and bad and that people have become too attached to their phones. He says that he has witnessed accidents and drivers pulling into traffic with phones to their ears.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in May found more than nine people are killed daily and about 1,060 people are injured in accidents with a distracted driver. Cell phones are one of several distractions that have played a part in those accidents. Among the participants in the CDC survey, 69 percent admitted to using their phones while driving within a month before the study.

In New Jersey alone, since the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) began to track down phone related accidents, the number has increased in high numbers.

In 2002, when New Jersey began collecting data, the number of phone related accidents were totaled at 454. In 2003, the number jumped to 576; in 2004, the total was 527.

In July 2004, the state made a law prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones. Following the law, in 2005 the number of accidents decreased to 170 and no fatalities were recorded, according to the NJDOT. In 2006, the NJDOT began to separate data into two groups — handheld phone accidents and hands-free phone related accidents. Since 2006, the number of accidents has increased. The latest data from 2012 shows 1,838 handheld phone accidents and 1,545 hands-free phone related accidents with nine total fatalities.

From what he has seen, McDonald said that people have become distracted and that even children, who will be on the road at some time in their life, might continue the habit of talking or texting on their phone while driving.

McDonald views cell phones as a worldwide epidemic and his goal is to send a message to people so they put their phones down and use the song as a method to save lives.

“Sometimes messages through songs could have more of an impression on people, especially the young generation,” said McDonald.