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The Current Parent

Dear Texting Offender: Let's Pinkie-Swear To Stop While Driving

By TERESA M. PELHAM, tpelham@comcast.net

The Hartford Courant

9:33 AM EDT, June 6, 2013

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You were probably texting.

Traffic was crawling, and you'd only be taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds.

But the next thing you knew, you were flying right into the back of my car.

Accidents happen, and I've had a few fender-benders of my own. We all have.

I don't know for sure if your phone was the reason you stopped paying attention, or if it was your coffee or your wayward flip-flop, as you told the police officer. But I do know that close to 50 percent of teens admit that they have texted while driving. Know what? I've done it, too. Adults are now almost as likely to text and drive as teenagers.

My kids and I sometimes play a game while walking to school or to the pool: We count how many drivers we see texting or talking on their cell phones. Usually it's about half the drivers who pass us. Forgive me for jumping to conclusions, but for the sake of teaching others a lesson, let's just assume.

My hope is that the ticket you got, the claim on your insurance, and the flack your parents likely gave you will jolt you enough to make you stop texting while driving.

I hate to even go there, but you probably realize there's a school crossing just a block away from where our accident happened a few weeks ago. I'm sure you've thought about how differently this would have ended if it wasn't just the back of my Toyota that you hit.

The thing about mistakes is that we can learn from them. Most of us slow down after getting a speeding ticket, or look more careful when backing up after that first parking lot fender-bender. My hope is that you —- and maybe even your peers —- can use this as a wake-up call.

I love my shiny new bumper, and we're helping to put a nice chiropractor's kids through college while he tries to return my neck to its original position. It's not the end of the world. You didn't seriously hurt anyone this time. But can we pinkie-promise not to text and drive anymore? I will if you will.

Teresa M. Pelham is a blogger for the Courant's "Mommy Minute" parenting blog. A freelance writer based in Farmington, Teresa is the author of "Roxy's Forever Home," a children's book benefiting dog rescue. Visit www.roxysforeverhome.com for more information.