DWT is the new DWI

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nearly 6,000 people are killed and half a million injured every year because of being distracted while driving. Compare this figure to 10,000 people being killed every year because of driving drunk. While most are familiar with the death and destruction caused by DWIs, some choose to ignore the impact that Driving While Texting or Talking (DWT) has while behind the wheel of their moving vehicle. The distraction caused by DWT is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration level at the legal limit of .08 percent.

The next time you're driving, make a simple observation of the drivers around you who are on their cell phone. You'll notice consistent characteristics. They all have the same far away, glassed over look in their eyes. The reason for this is because brain activity is reduced by 37 percent while DWT. They're focused on the conversation on their phone, or texting, and not on the more important task of driving safely. Driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of reported accidents.

So, how does this translate to Goodfellow? More than 1.2 million vehicles enter the gates over the course of a year, more than 11,000 students are here throughout the year, and more than 3,000 students are on the base on a daily basis. The majority of the students are on foot and consistently use the crosswalks. They are everywhere a vehicle could do them harm.

So, do you think you can beat the statistics? Let's say you believe you have great hand-eye coordination and you don't have to worry about hitting any pedestrians...plus, you're just that good of a driver. If that's the case, you won't mind conducting an experiment. Go to the track with a friend, pick a lane and text back and forth while you attempt to stay in your lane and walk around the track. You can't do it. Have someone follow behind you to note how many times you weave in and out of your lane. In the police world, the repeated crossings of the line while operating a vehicle are indicators of being drunk. Now consider the same results while behind the wheel of your car. Drivers that are DWT are four times as likely to get into accidents serious enough to injure or kill themselves or others.

So, what is authorized on Goodfellow? Using hands free devices is the only way you are authorized to operate a cell phone while driving on Goodfellow. This includes an ear piece or having your phone set to speaker, but only if the phone is not in your hands. Setting the phone to speaker and holding in your hand while talking is not authorized. Texting is never authorized, this includes checking messages, emails, and web surfing. Consequences for violating the policy are:

· 1st Offense - loss of driving privileges for 7 days
· 2nd Offense - loss of driving privileges for 14 days
· 3rd Offense - loss of driving privileges for 30 days
· 4th Offense - loss of driving privileges for 1 year.

Be safe, be smart, be aware and just know that "If you don't want to WALK...pull over to TEXT and TALK!!!"