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Team V reminded to not text while driving

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Texting while driving is not only illegal, it is dangerous to people both inside and outside the vehicle. Don't text and drive. (U.S. Air Force photo graphic/Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Texting while driving is not only illegal, it is dangerous to people both inside and outside the vehicle. Don't text and drive. (U.S. Air Force photo graphic/Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With the current rash of vehicle accidents across the country occurring while the driver was texting, base leadership is reminding Team V to put their phones down while behind the wheel. 

Texting while driving is not only illegal, it is dangerous. According to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. 

"Texting distracts the driver and greatly increases the possibility of causing a mishap," said Brian Eiler, the 30th Space Wing ground safety manager. "Thousands die in vehicle mishaps each year and texting is the causal factor."

The reason for the increased chances of getting in an accident is quite simple: texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road, according to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. 

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute also conducted a study on texting while driving. Their researchers found that drivers spend an average of five seconds at a time looking at their devices when sending or receiving texts. In fact, lead researcher Rich Hanowski said texting is one of the most distractions for drivers, putting texting "in its own universe of risk."

If the dangers of texting while driving don't discourage some drivers, the possibility of punishment might. In California, the Wireless Communications Device Law makes it an infraction to write, send or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles' Web site. The base fine for the first offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.

On Vandenberg the punishment for texting is the same as for cell phone usage. A Department of Defense civilian or contractor will receive a DD Form 1805 and a $105 fine. Military members and their dependents will receive a DD Form 1408.

"If monetary fines are not deterrent enough, driving privileges on VAFB can be revoked," Mr. Eiler said. "There are enough distractions on the roadways. Focus on the road and pull off the road or wait until you get to your final destination before you text. Keep in mind, driving is a privilege, not a right."