Entries in Texting (9)


Texting 911 to Be Activated

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Communications Commission announced it reached a "voluntary agreement" with the country's largest wireless carriers for implementing a text option for 911, instead of calling to report an emergency.

Last year 13-year-old Chloe Symington was home alone in Michigan when she spotted two intruders and called 911 from under her bed. Understandably, she did not want to talk.

It's situations like this and the concern for the hearing and speech impaired that made the FCC asked American major wireless providers to speed up development of a system to let people text 911 instead of calling.

The FCC says the system will be ready, across the country, by 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One in Three Teens Text While Driving, CDC Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While teen drivers have reduced some risky behaviors behind the wheel, such as not wearing a seatbelt and driving while intoxicated, many still engage in other dangerous practices, according to a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds that one in three high school students had texted or emailed while driving during the past 30 days.

"Texting or email while driving can have deadly consequences that are entirely preventable," says Howell Wechsler, the director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.  "Studies show that activities such as texting are particularly dangerous because they take the drivers attention away from driving more frequently and for longer period of times than other distractions."

Combined with their inexperience, texting puts young drivers at risk for car accidents.

"Due to their lack of experience behind the wheel, younger drivers under the age of 20 are at increased risk and at the highest proportion of distraction related fatal crashes," says Wechsler.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American youth, according to the CDC.  They account for more than one in three teen deaths each year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Judge Clears Woman from Boyfriend's Texting-and-Driving Lawsuit

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(MORRIS COUNTY, N.J.) -- A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a woman who sent a text message to her boyfriend while he was driving cannot be held liable for the motor vehicle accident he subsequently caused.

The decision stemmed from a 2009 case in which Kyle Best, 19, was responding to a text message from his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, 19, while he was driving his pickup truck when he crashed into a motorcycle and severely injured David and Linda Kubert.

In an unprecedented legal twist, the Kuberts' attorney, Stephen "Skippy" Weinstein, amended the original complaint filed against Best to include Colonna as a defendant in the case, saying that she had been in frequent texting contact with Best throughout the day and ought to have known he was driving.

But Judge David Rand ruled Friday in Morris County Superior Court that Colonna could not be held responsible for Best's distracted driving.

"Drivers are bombarded with all forms of distractions," Rand told the courtroom, according to The Star-Ledger, a newspaper in New Jersey. "I find that there was no aiding, abetting here in the legal sense. I find it is unreasonable to impose a duty upon the defendant in this case under these facts. Were I to extend this duty, in my judgment, any form of distraction could potentially serve as basis of a liability case."

Rand said implicating Colonna as liable for an accident caused by text messaging when she wasn't present in Best's car was an argument that had never been addressed in any previous lawsuits, according to The Daily Record.

Weinstein said in a news conference that the Kuberts, who both became amputees as a result of the accident, "are understandably disappointed with the court's decision today," but that they plan to appeal it once the lawsuit against Best has been decided. The Kuberts recently moved to Florida from New Jersey for financial reasons and were just denied permanent disability status from an insurance company, Weinstein said.

Proceedings against Best, who pleaded guilty to distracted driving, will continue within the next few months.

Colonna's attorney, Joseph McGlone, did not respond to requests for comment following Rand's decision, but he had argued that she shouldn't be held accountable for the accident when she wasn't present in the vehicle.

"I don't think it's a valid claim against her," he previously told ABC News.

McGlone added he had never heard of a case similar to the one against his client being brought to trial.

But Weinstein argued that the couple's back-and-forth texting was tantamount to a verbal conversation.

"She may not have been physically present, but she was electronically present," Weinstein said.

Best pleaded guilty to three motor vehicle citations earlier this year, but his driver's license was not suspended, according to The Daily Record.

The case has again brought up the question of how to balance safe driving with distracting mobile communication devices.

In December last year, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a ban on all "personal electronics" in cars except for those needed for emergencies or driver assistance.

Regardless of whether Weinstein's novel argument that Colonna partially responsible for the crash is ever repeated in future cases, he said the Kuberts "are gratified that if by bringing the case they have accomplished the goal of making people think before they text, whether while driving or while the recipient is driving."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texting While Jaywalking? New Jersey Town Issues Tickets

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(FORT LEE, N.J.) -- If you’re caught texting while crossing the street in Fort Lee, N.J., you’d better be ready to cough up $85 for a ticket.

Police Chief Thomas Ripoli said that jaywalking had become a dangerous problem with pedestrians traveling while distracted by technology, be it their cellphones or mp3 players.

“They’re not walking in the crosswalks. They’re walking against the red light, and they’re being struck by vehicles,” Ripoli said Monday. “We had three fatalities this year, and 23 people hurt, hit, [in] a three-month period.”

Last year, 74 pedestrians were struck and two people were killed in Fort Lee, a city of 35,000, just across the Hudson River from New York City.

Officers started handing out pamphlets in March, but Ripoli said that when residents didn’t heed the warnings, the police started ticketing offenders.

According to The Record, the local newspaper, more than 117 tickets had been issued so far.

In 2008, according to an Ohio State University study, more than 1,000 people -- double the previous year’s number -- visited emergency rooms after they were injured while walking and talking on the telephone.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York found that texters were 60 percent more likely to veer off line than those walking and not texting.

Chief Ripoli said he hoped the jaywalking crackdown would encourage the public to become smarter when traveling on foot.

He said the tickets had nothing to do with collecting more money for the city.

“I’m here to make sure my officers and the public are safe,” he said. “We believe you should make eye contact with the vehicles when you’re crossing....Technology is interfering a little bit with the safety of the public.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Many Young Drivers Text, Talk Behind Wheel Despite Knowing Risks

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- Most young drivers are aware that talking or texting behind the wheel is dangerous, but that hasn't stopped many from doing it.

A new survey out Tuesday by Consumer Reports found that while 80 percent of 16- to 21-year-olds polled said texting or using apps while driving poses serious risks, almost a third -- 29 percent -- admitted to texting as they drove in the last 30 days.  Another 8 percent said they used apps while driving and 7 percent confessed to using e-mail or social media.

The magazine also found that although 60 percent of young drivers surveyed considered talking on the phone while driving to be dangerous, half of them said they did it in the last 30 days.

Despite the findings, there are some safety-minded young people on the road as Liza Barth, an associate editor for Consumers Reports, points out.

"We found that about 50 percent said that they are speaking up for their safety, if they see some of their friends using these things behind the wheel," Barth said.

What's more, "74 percent have tried to stop their behaviors and they've read about the problem; 61 percent have heard or read about the problem of distracted driving; and 40 percent said the laws have helped them reduce or stop some of the behaviors," Barth said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


No Evidence Cellphone Bans Are Effective, Report Shows

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite nationwide initiatives to curb cellphone use while driving, there is no evidence indicating that the bans are effective, according to a report out Thursday.

Nevertheless, the 40-page document urged states to enact cellphone and texting bans, even as it declared that there is "no solid evidence that any [ban] is effective in reducing crashes, injuries, or fatalities."

The report, Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, developed by a host of transportation safety officials, also called on employers, the automobile industry and the federal government to continue to develop tests and implement measures to combat all forms of distracted driving.

The report summarized all research on distracted drivers available as of January 2011 and focused its attention on distractions caused by cellphones and text messaging.

One recent study said that about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cellphone while driving.

The new document found that there was no conclusive evidence whether hands-free cellphone use is less risky than hand-held use.  It suggested that texting may carry a higher risk than other forms of cellphone use, but again found there was no conclusive evidence to verify that claim.

As of June 2011, 34 states and the District of Columbia had enacted texting bans for all drivers, but a 2010 study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) found that the bans did not reduce collision claims.  In fact, claims increased slightly in states enacting texting bans compared to neighboring states.

HLDI suggested two possible reasons for the increase.

"Texters may realize that texting bans are difficult to enforce, so they may have little incentive to reduce texting for fear of being detected and fined," the HDLI report said.  Or, the institute suggested, texters may have responded to the ban by "hiding their phones from view, potentially increasing their distractive effects by requiring longer glances away from the road."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Could Being Able to Text 911 Save Lives?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When a gunman was prowling the halls of Virginia Tech University on April 16, 2007 on a shooting rampage that left 33 people dead, dozens of students and staff sent texts to 911 trying to get help.

But those texts were never received, because the local 911 center -- like most across the country, including ones in major cities -- could only handle basic phone calls.

An estimated 240 million calls are made to 911 in the United States each year.  According to the Federal Communications Commission, 70 percent of them are wireless calls made from devices that can also send valuable information in the form of texts, pictures and video.

"Funding has just simply not been able to keep 911 centers current with 21st century technology," said Brian Fontes, CEO of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).  "Most of the 911 centers across the country today are stuck in the 1960s and 1970s technology."

More and more people are found to be in situations where they can't speak or are in danger if they make noise, like in the Virginia Tech massacre.

As a result, in November 2010 the FCC began a push to overhaul the 911 emergency system to allow users to text 911 during times when picking up a phone and dialing the police might not be a safe option.

You might be surprised at who's leading the way to the 21st century: rural Black Hawk County, Iowa where the population is 130,000, about 14 percent of the population of New York City.  It's the only place in the entire country where dispatchers have the technology to respond to emergency text messages.

Some officials are wary of texting's downside, however, and suggest trying to stick to the old fashion way first.

"You could just imagine someone who is nervous trying to text on a cell phone," said Jose Santiago, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management.  "You could make a lot of mistakes, you're not getting that vital information quickly and that's why a phone call is so important."

Chicago recently added technology that allows police to receive cell phone photos, but only after people first call 911.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fountain-Falling Texter in Court for Alleged Theft

Photo Courtesy - ABC News

(WYOMISSING, Pa.) -- The problems continue to pile up for the Pennsylvania woman who became the unwitting star of a viral video after she fell into a mall fountain while text messaging.

In the hours that followed Cathy Cruz Marrero's appearance on Good Morning America Thursday to talk about the fall and its aftermath, she was in court for a status hearing on charges of five felony counts, including theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Marrero, 49, was charged in October 2009 for allegedly using a coworker's credit cards to make more than $5,000 in purchases at a Target and a Zales jewelry store -- $1,055 of those purchases were dismissed from the case in previous hearings.

She is expected to face sentencing at her next court date, on April 21, according to the Reading Eagle. Marrero is likely facing about six months of house arrest and electronic monitoring.

Her probation ended in October.

Video of Marrero's tumble earlier this month has attracted more than a million and a half views on YouTube and been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter.

She hinted on Good Morning America that she may sue the mall where she fell. She has hired a lawyer to explore whether someone should have come to her aid rather than posting her image on the Internet.

"I didn't get an apology, what I got was, 'At least nobody knows it was you,' " Marrero said. "But I knew it was me."

Marrero didn't realize what happened until she was already in the water.

"Unfortunately, I didn't have anything to grab onto and hold my balance," she said.

Her lawyer, James Polyak, said they intend to hold the responsible parties accountable; whether requesting or demanding an apology and requesting an explanation on why this happened and how it happened.

Polyak plans to search for the identities of those responsible for making the video public.

Polyak suspects an official within the mall's security office viewed the footage and allowed it to be videotaped onto a cell phone.

Marrero was replying to a text from a friend from her church.

Court documents indicate that Marrero has had her own legal troubles.

She has been out on $7,500 bail since her 2009 charges for alleged theft, records show.

According to court records, Ileana Rivera of Reading, Pa., who worked at the Zales jewelry store in the Fairgrounds Square Mall with Marrero, reported that Marrero had used her credit cards without permission.

Marrero allegedly made $4,177 in purchases at Zales and $1,055 in purchases at a Target around the time of August 2007, records show.

Rivera admitted she at one time had permitted Marrero to use her Target credit card to make a small purchase but did not give her permission to make other purchases.

In August 2007, Rivera noticed she hadn't received her credit card bills and discovered that her address on the accounts was allegedly changed to that of Marrero's.

According to public court documents, Marrero has convictions for retail theft four times and one other theft in New York from 1997 to 1999 and retail theft in York County in 1999.

She also received 12 months of probation after being convicted of a hit-and-run charge in Berks County in 2009.

As for Marrero's more recent problems, a security-camera video, which shows her texting while walking, has made her a viral video star. Clearly not paying attention, she trips and plunges head first into the mall fountain.

She then casually gets up, fishes out her cell phone, climbs out, looks around and walks away.

Marrero said she was embarrassed after the incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teens Try Week With No Facebook, Texting

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SEATTLE) -- Facebook and texting are like food and water for modern-day teenagers. But this week, students at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, Wash., have tried to go cold turkey in a challenge they called "the social experiment."

Along with their rival high school, the students took a trip back to 1995: no Facebook, no texting, no e-mail, no instant messaging. Except for emergencies, they didn't even use their cell phones.

When they return to school on Monday, the students will see who survived without status updates, and who was tempted to text. The tech-addicted kids were inspired by their video production teacher, Trent Mitchell, who said he hoped his students could "think about ways they can communicate besides just sending a quick 'OMG, LOL' message."

The time away from the computer led some students to appreciate old-fashioned forms of entertainment, like reading a paper-and-ink book.

Mitchell said about 250 students and teachers at each high school planned to go tech-free for the week. Students who survived the week -- and didn't get caught by the "Facebook spies" who were monitoring students' online habits -- stood to win prizes donated by businesses in the community. Students in his video production class were filming the experiment and creating documentaries out of their footage.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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