EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column.

We have seen a major increase here in Waxahachie and across the nation with drivers involved in accidents that where caused by distracted driving (texting).  

I cannot tell you how many times I have had people swerve into my lane because they are concentrating on their phone.  

It is frustrating they do not realize how much damage they could cause to themselves or someone else just because they have to send a text.  

Car and Driver did a study which showed your reaction time is 3 times slower when texting and driving than when your blood alcohol content is at 0.08 (legal limit).  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2008 that driver distraction was the cause of 16 percent of all fatal crashes — 5,800 people killed — and 21 percent of crashes resulting in an injury — 515,000 people wounded.

According to AAA, nearly 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving.

Distracted driving endangers life and property and the current levels of injury and loss are unacceptable. The state added a box on the accident form which the officer can check to indicate the cause of the crash was distracted driving. (FCC and Car and Driver stats quoted)

Folks this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed with you, your relatives and especially the younger generation.  

There has been a lot of talk about making phones in the car hand-free only.  We have this as a law in active school zones, but it has not got enough support to make this the norm anytime we are driving.  

Some of phone companies are actually working on an application that will not allow the phone to work when traveling over a certain speed.  

Please remember that when you are the cause of the accident you may not be the one that is hurt. Even though you do nothing legally wrong, you can still be held responsible for civil liability, especially if you were driving distracted.

Wess Winn holds a master peace officer certification. If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at wwinn@waxahachiepd.org or call 972-937-9940, Ext. 212. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.