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Do you drive while "intexticated"?

Lawton_Too many drivers have one hand on the wheel, one hand on their cell phone, and no eyes on the road - teens and adults text messaging while driving.  Some drivers say that even a law won't make them stop texting and driving - they are "intexticated."

Text messaging is the newest cell phone craze - especially among teenagers.  When the distracting gadget is combined with a two-ton car, it's a deadly combination.  "It's like an epidemic," said one driver.  "Text messaging is like a big thing right now and everybody does it."  another driver text messages over the steering wheel.  "Whenever I get a text message I just grab it, pick it up, I put it right on top of the steering wheel.  So, I'm just texting and looking at the road at the same time."

When you hit the road, you'll see distracted drivers all the time.  They're putting on makeup, tuning the radio, eating, and talking on their cell phones.  "They're not dedicating themselves 100% to driving - which they should," said Lawton Police Lieutenant Donnie Hanson.  "Ultimately that's what causes accidents."

The most dangerous multi-tasking of all may be texting while driving.  Stopping those who do it may be downright impossible.  "I don't think anything could stop me from doing it," said one of the guilty as charged drivers.  "I've learned how to text and not look, just so I could text while I drive."

7News wanted to know just how popular this dangerous trend is, so we put a poll on our website asking if our viewers have ever sent a text while driving.  The results were astounding.  In less than a month, just under 3,000 viewers answered, and well over half admitted to texting and driving. 

7News morning anchor Lindsay Vocht put members of the 7News team to the test - all of whom admitted to driving while "intexicated."  They took a trip the Lawton Police Department's training room for a test drive on the driving simulator.  They started out okay, but once the text messages began rolling in, so did the crashes.  One by one, each team member failed - including Reporter Lindsay Vocht herself.

No members of the 7News team involved in the experiment have ever been in a texting-related accident - but, accidents do happen. "50 to 60 percent of our accidents are rear end collision accidents, and it's just do to being inattentive," said Hanson.

In a car crash in Tulsa, the driver slammed into a parked truck, and admitted to police he that he was text messaging while driving.  "I was a traffic cop for five years, and I had some cell phone accidents," said Hanson.  "Now, on the new accident report, there actually is a block that we check."  Unfortunately, most drivers won't admit texting caused a car crash, and others are lucky enough to just have a close call such as curb-checks or running over rivets on the highway.

Some states, such as California, already have banned cell phone usage while driving - Oklahoma and Texas are not on that list.  While it is legal in some states, and texting is an easy way to communicate without saying a word - it is not safe.  If a driver is traveling 50 miles-per-hour and looks down for three seconds, he or she will look up to find they have traveled the length of a football field.

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