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Texting and Driving Problems in Odessa

The City of Odessa is trying to crack down on people who are texting while driving.  Marianne Elisak reports. 
ODESSA --  The City of Odessa is experiencing a boom and with the increased amount of drivers on the road, many of them are getting distracted by their phones. 

"I suspect that probably 80% or even 85% of cars in Ector County and the city of Odessa text and drive" says Odessa Mayor, Larry Melton. 

Melton says that the issue of texting and driving was brought up at a City Council meeting a few months ago but had to be put on the back-burner due to more pressing issues like the trash problem and lack of water supply. 

"We know it's a problem" says Melton, "we would like to address it, but how you enforce it is a big big hurdle to get over". 

Melton says that the only way to put a stop to texting and driving is by creating a law that bans all distracted driving. 

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) in Odessa, there was a total of 81,000 crashes due to distracted driving in 2011.

Any kind of distraction with a cell phone, whether it be texting or talking takes 39% of your brain activity that you would otherwise be devoting to safe driving.

"Texting and driving is equivalent to driving while intoxicated" says TXDOT Director of Communications. 

The City of Odessa has put out campaigns trying to educate people on the dangers of texting while driving, but because it is not the law, people are still reaching for their phones when in their cars.

"It shouldn't have to be a law" says Powell, "we should be smart enough to take care of ourselves and have some personal responsibility not to put ourselves, our families or others in danger by texting and talking on the phone while driving".
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