GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 20, 2013

My View: DA Blodgett on 'texting' pledge

My View
Jonathan Blodgett

---- — There is nothing more tragic than a death caused by texting while driving.

The texter is not malicious, but simply negligent, and the victim is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Some readers may know that, in my position as Essex County district attorney, I prosecuted Massachusetts’ first fatal texting-while-driving case. It was an incredibly sad case that left a woman injured, killed a beloved grandfather and sent a young man to prison.

While I take no pleasure in the outcome, I hope that case has taught our drivers to be responsible with their technology on the road. Unfortunately, I know that in the last year, there have been another 100,000 U.S. collisions caused by texting while driving, so we still have work to do.

For readers who aren’t familiar with the Massachusetts law on texting while driving, you should know that “manually composing, sending or reading an electronic message” is against the law, and causing injury while texting is punishable by up to two years in a house of correction. For most people, I imagine that the jail time is the easy part and knowing that you hurt, maimed or killed an innocent person is the hard part.

Let’s face it, texting while driving can ruin your life, and educating drivers of all ages about the dangers of texting and driving is critical.

While most drivers certainly know that they shouldn’t take their eyes off the road — even for a second — few realize that texting while driving is a criminal offense. We all use mobile technology for work and to stay connected with friends and family, but we must use it responsibly and make sure that others do, too. Tell your friends, tell your children and tell your parents — we all have to be talking about the dangers of texting while driving.

Thankfully, we are not alone. Companies, government agencies and community groups from across the United States have joined together this week to raise awareness about texting and driving.

The “It Can Wait” initiative is sponsoring a Drive for Pledges day and asking all Americans to take a pledge to not text while driving. This campaign is an important public safety program that has been key to bringing this message home: There is no text that is important enough to risk your life or someone else’s to read or send.

Please join me and tens of thousands of other Americans and take the pledge to not text and drive at www.itcanwait.com. The life you save could be your own.

Jonathan Blodgett is the Essex County district attorney.