MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It's a deadly decision many drivers make every single day. Texting while driving is a distraction that's proven to be fatal.
Government research shows in 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
A small decision and a simple conversation could change your life forever.
Megan Warman was an 18-year-old student at Crestview High school before her life was tragically cut short in February 2011.
Warman played volleyball, had two jobs and her college education at Northwest Florida State College was already paid for through a scholarship. She was duel enrolled there and on her way to class when her parents say she began texting while driving.
"It wasn't an important text message that was Earth shattering or anything like that. It was a conversation, but there were also multiple people that were texting. The person she texted last would never know," said Warman's father Rusty Fine. "It looks like when she went off the road, she tried to correct, and when she tried to correct, the front wheel dug in and the car flipped over."
Warman was airlifted to the critical care unit at Sacred Heart Hospital. She was on life support and in a coma with major brain damage. Her friends and family rushed to the hospital, and the praying began.
"Her classmates came in thinking, 'I'm going to see Meghan. She is going to get better.' Because when you're young, nobody dies to speak of; everybody gets better, " said Fine.
But she didn't get better. After 11 days in the hospital, Warman passed away because of major brain damage from the accident.
Texting while driving has proven to be deadly. So why do people continue to test the limits and text while behind the wheel?
We went to University of Alabama at Birmingham University Transportation Center, the only distracted driving research lab in Alabama, for answers.
Director of the Translational Research for Injury Prevention Laboratory Despina Stavrinos said many drivers feel they are invincible.
"Well what happens is you send a text message and nothing happens. You're safe. You didn't crash that time. You were okay. So it reinforces for that driver that says, 'Hey, I can do this. It's alright. Nothing happened to me,'" said Stavrinos.
Stavrinos has conducted a number of studies on distracted driving and said distractions come in many different forms.
"It could be putting on makeup, a pet in the vehicle, other passengers; anything again that takes your attention off the road and places it on to something else," said Stavrinos.
Researchers said texting while driving is life the perfect storm. Physically, at least one of your hands is off the wheel, and your eyes are off the road.
"But most importantly, you're using your mind to compose that text to read it and to respond to it," said Starvrinos.
Many drivers continue to text, knowing the consequences. What will be their wake up call?
"That is really the challenge we are up against. How do we get them to change their minds? How do we debunk their misconceptions about it. I'm not sure the answer is at this point," said Stavrinos.
Stavrinos will continue to study deadly distractions, and she hopes her work will sway drivers to put their phones away.
Rusty hopes the images of his daughters destroyed car and the twinkle in her eye will urge drivers to think twice.
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