DWI is the acronym for driving while intoxicated. It is also the acronym for diving while “intexticated.” Both are illegal to some point and both are deadly.

Not a day passes without my seeing a distracted driver flying down the highway with eyes focused not on the road ahead, but on the center of their steering wheel where their thumbs are busy tapping out a message that could surely wait until they are stopped or arrive at their destination.

You’ve seen it, too.

Maybe you are one of these hazards to life and limb. If you are, I’m betting that you’ve had a few vehicular near misses yourself.

Not all distracted texting drivers are teens, although far too many are. Many of those distracted I see are in their 20s, 30s and beyond. Stupidity knows no age limits.

I call texting and driving stupid, because anyone who imperils themselves and others for the sake of staying in touch while driving, rather than being responsible by waiting until pulling off the road, is indeed nonsensical and very dangerous.

In 2014, the latest available statistics, at least 24 percent of all vehicle collisions involved cellphones; either texting, hands on gabbing, dialing or reaching for a phone.

Nationally, that’s 1.3 million crashes. It is also estimated that teens who text while driving spend 10 percent of their driving time outside their traffic lane.

It is conservatively estimated that the minimum amount of time one’s attention is taken off the road to send a text is five seconds. If one is traveling at 55 miles per hour, during that short time one has traveled 100 yards, the entire length of a football field, without looking at the road ahead. A lot can happen in that distance.

More than 13 percent of drivers age 18-20 who were involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their cellphones at the time of the collision.

What’s scary when considering these statistics, is that over 83 percent of all Americans 16-18 own cellphones. More than half of these folks have admitted to talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving. About 34 percent admit to texting while driving. I’m guessing that another 20 percent have done both but will not admit to either. Pretty scary, huh?

There’s more. Texting while operating a vehicle makes a collision with a moving or fixed object 23 times more likely than driving without distraction. The National Highway Transportation Council estimates that a texter is six times more likely to get into a collision than a 0.08 blood alcohol content drunk. Are you scared yet? The biggest problem is that 77 percent of young adults are confident to some degree that they can safely text while driving and 55 percent of them assert that it’s easy to do. Adults do it, too. One in five drivers in all ages admit to surfing the web while driving. Now I’m scared.

Ten states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones. Thirty-nine states prohibit all ages from texting while driving.

Unfortunately, Texas is not one of these states.

In March 2015, the Texas state congress tentatively approved a bill to ban texting while driving, but the bill was vetoed by then Gov. Rick Perry. Laws such as the prohibition of cellphone use in school zones and distracted driving were enacted and remain in force.

Recognizing the inherent hazards of texting while driving, some municipalities such as Austin and others in Texas have banned cellphone usage within city limits. I hope many more follow suit.

Novice drivers are prohibited from any cellphone use while driving.

Assaults

Eleven assaults were reported in Copperas Cove this week. Of these six involved family members and two were sexual assaults.

  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Jan. 19 in the 400 block of Carothers Street.
  • An assault by threat was reported Jan. 20 in the 200 block of Dewald Street.
  • A sexual assault was reported Jan. 21. Location is omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • A sexual assault was reported Jan. 21. Location omitted to protect the identity of the victim.
  • An assault by threat was reported Jan. 21 in the 1400 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • An assault with bodily injury was reported Jan. 21 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Jan. 21 in the 200 block of Judy Lane.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Jan. 21 in the 1600 block of North Main Street.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Jan. 22 in the 1200 block of Craig Street.
  • An assault causing bodily injury/family violence was reported Jan. 22 in Cedar Grove Drive.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported Jan. 23 in the 2600 block of heartland Avenue.

Theft/burglary

Twelve crimes in this category were reported this week. Thieves continue to thrive among us.

  • A burglary of a building was reported Jan. 19 in the 500 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A burglary of a habitation was reported Jan. 23 in the 1300 block of Sparrow Trail. Property valued at $530 was reported stolen.
  • The theft of an identification card and multiple gift cards was reported Jan. 19 in the 200 block of east Hogan Drive.
  • The theft of an all-terrain vehicle and a bicycle were reported Jan. 19 in the 100 block of West Reagan Avenue.
  • The theft of currency and a prescription medicine from a vehicle was reported Jan. 19 in the 600 block of Sunset Lane.
  • The theft of electronics and a tool bag was reported Jan. 19 in the 1200 block of Urbantke Court.
  • A wallet and currency was reported stolen Jan. 20 in the 100 block of West Anderson Avenue.
  • Theft of a cellphone was reported Jan. 21 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • A theft of household items from a building was reported Jan. 21 in the 1400 block of Pony Express Lane.
  • A satellite dish was reported stolen Jan. 21 in the 700 block of Constitution Drive.
  • The theft of playing cards valued at $30 was reported Jan. 22 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • A theft of pillowcases valued at $67 was reported Jan. 23 at a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.

Other crimes

  • Arson was reported Jan. 19 in the 800 block of Karen Street.
  • Criminal trespass was reported Jan. 19 in the 500 block of North First Street.
  • Criminal trespass was reported Jan. 22 at a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Interference with child custody was reported Jan. 21.
  • Criminal mischief was reported Jan. 22 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • Possession of a controlled substance was reported Jan. 21 in the 300 block of Erby Avenue. An arrest was made.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Jan. 21 in the 2300 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana was reported Jan. 22 in the 1200 block of Mountain Avenue. An arrest was made.
  • Cruelty to animals was reported Jan. 21 in the 800 block of North Fifth Street. The perpetrator should suffer the same fate.
  • A terroristic threat was reported Jan. 22 in the 3400 block of Plateau Street.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Jan. 22 in the 200 block of bridle Drive.
  • Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Jan. 22 in the 1200 block of Phil Avenue.
  • A welfare concern/forced entry was reported Jan. 22 in the 11000 block of South 17th Street.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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