Is texting and driving worse than drunk driving? - - Jackson, MS

Is texting and driving worse than drunk driving?

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" campaign is in full force from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

DPS held their annual campaign at their headquarters on Tuesday. This year they were targeting young adults with football season approaching and likelihood of more college parties.

DPS reports in 2009, 245 fatalities resulted from drinking and driving accidents, and 63 occurred from September through November.

While drunk driving remains an issue in Mississippi, national reports show texting and driving can be as dangerous.

A 2008 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 50 percent of teens text and drive. Fifty-eight hundred people died because of it, and 28 percent of all accidents were caused by 18-29 year olds texting and driving.

Some Jackson residents say texting and driving can be more dangerous for patrons on the roadways, than drunk driving because more people do it.

"I think there are even more people texting and driving than there are drinking and driving," said Charlotte Hill, a grandmother of three.

Twenty-seven-year-old Pavel Kanapatski agrees. "I think it's even more problem than drinking and driving cause so much young kids right now texting it's just worldwide everywhere," he said.

Eighteen-year-old Titus Blakeney admitted to texting and driving, "I'm not gonna lie, I've done it before, I've done it quite often before."

However, Blakeney says after a few of his friends got into minor accidents from texting and driving he started to realize the dangers.

"But I saw the precautions and I was like you know what... Let's throw away any kind of hazards any kind of distractions. Let's just try to do away with them all," Blakeney said.

At the "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" campaign Commissioner Steve Simpson says they pushed for legislation to ban everyone from texting and driving in Mississippi. But this law didn't pass, and only permit drivers are banned from doing it.

Nonetheless, Commissioner Simpson says drunk driving, and texting and driving are both serious issues.

"Anything that diverts your attention from maintaining clearly puts you and others in danger. So distracted drivers and impaired drivers pose a terrific risk for us," said Simpson.

Neilson Corporation reports in general women and minorities more often text and talk on their phones. It says women talk and text 22 percent more than men.

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