Sending SMS can be life saving or fatal

The introduction and popularity of SMS (Short Messaging System) signals both positive and negative consequences as highlighted in two recent and very different incidents involving SMS messages and mobile phones. The advantages of SMS can be seen in the case of a young British woman rescued at sea after sending an SMS message to her boyfriend. The woman – part of a group of backpackers on board a disabled yacht – had been adrift on Indonesian waters for 12 hours before sending a text message, “we need help – SOS”, to her boyfriend in England who then alerted British coastguards. The British coastguards contacted Australian and Indonesian coastguards to rescue the group.

However, in England a truck driver has been sentenced to five years in jail after running over and killing a pedestrian while typing an SMS message on his mobile phone. The incident has attracted the attention of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents who have urged drivers to switch off their mobile phones as soon as they get into their cars to eliminate the temptation of sending or reading SMS messages.

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