Your cell phone is killing people. Imagine for a moment you are on your way to your place of work. Traffic is terrible, so you grab your cell phone to text your co-worker or boss to let them know that you will be late for work. All you can remember later is the brief glimpse down to your cell phone while using your other hand to steer the car blindly. The trip to the hospital was short; you had your seat belt on and walked away with only minor injuries. The vehicle you ran into, on the other hand, fared much worse. A three-year-old boy was nearly killed in the collision.
No, this would never happen to you. You are a perfect driver and have never had a problem driving while using your cell phone. The 330,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths annually were just unlucky, perhaps (Christensen par 3). How could this accident have been prevented? Laws concerning distracted drivers need to be enforced and education reinforced before more accidents occur. A driver that also thought he would be fine using his cell phone had, in fact, nearly killed a three-year-old boy named Griffin from Bastrop, Texas.
The impact was so severe that it fractured the three-year-old’s skull in several places, requiring him to undergo emergency neuro and facial surgeries (Stolp 1). What would happen if Griffin was your son? What kind of emotional distress would you be going through while you waited to hear if your little boy was going to survive or not? Would he have to live with life altering effects afterwards? This is not the only accident resulting from a driver using their cell phone.
How many of your loved ones are driving distracted or sitting in the passenger side of the car while the driver is texting or talking on their cell phone? How many times have you been the distracted driver? A study performed by the University of Utah’s Psychology Department in 2003 compared drivers under the influence of alcohol to drivers using cell phones (both talking and texting). They found that drivers on cell phones exhibited sluggish behavior and slower reaction, which they attempted to compensate for by increasing their following distance.
The study concluded that cell phone drivers exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers and caused three times more accidents than drunk drivers (Strayer, Drews and Crouch par 4). Additionally, it was found that the response time while using both hands-free and hand-held phones was drastically slower than driving drunk (Strayer, Drews and Crouch par 8). According to statistics, texting and driving is worse than driving drunk, however, the law indicates otherwise. From this perspective, the consequences of drinking and driving or texting and driving are skewed.
While being cited as driving under the influence (DUI) will result in the loss of your driving priveledges, jail time, and many more thing; texting and driving at the same time is considered minuscule. The offender will get off easily without any far reaching effects. Writing a law that prohibits new drivers (such as teenagers) from using cell phones while driving and allowing parents or older peers to do so, not only sets a bad example, but places everyone in danger and ultimately will not work. Education is key.
As distracted driving becomes a greater problem within our community and the need to multitask grows, our education system needs to evolve and deliver the message to drivers (both novice and advanced) that texting and talking on the phone while driving is a dangerous and irresponsible act. The car is not the proper place to take care of two tasks at the same time. If education is not reinforced with teachers explaining how dangerous distracted driving really is, the laws concerning careless driving become frivolous and when they do take effect, it will be after the fact, and too late for the three-year-old boy fighting for his life.
Obviously, the problem needs to be stopped before it ever starts. Therefore, it is imperative that young, influential new drivers learn firsthand the dangers of driving distracted. In the classroom, real life stories, along with crash videos, need to be shown to the young driver’s education students. Attention grabbing, stimulating activities need to be shown and exercised in every driver’s education class in order to show the young drivers exactly how deadly distracted driving can be. Statistics should be shared and the consequences of driving distracted should be discussed among the class as well.
After speaking with driver’s education teachers at local high schools, it was found that little to no education is provided during the course to students who are the most influential drivers and most likely to use cell phones while driving. This is the same response received in speaking with the Driver’s License Division. Education needs to be put into place at the Drivers License Division. Brochures that show real life stories, statistics and consequences should be handed out every time someone walks through the door. Furthermore, the Driver’s License Division needs to djust the out of date examination and make room for current issues and new laws coming into effect, as well as hand out brochures about the dangers of distracted driving. Sadly, the dangers of using a cell phone while driving are not even mentioned on the driver’s license test.
Adults do not receive information about distracted driving when they go to renew their driver’s license. The media needs to play a bigger role as well. Radio stations, billboards and television ads can help in the fight against this growing concern. As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words. Would you think twice about driving distracted if you saw Griffin’s story on the television screen along with graphic images or posted on the highway’s billboard overlooking the city traffic? Would you stop if you knew the consequences were the same as driving drunk? Along with media, many other people should be trying to influence drivers to not have distractions while driving. “More than 275 million Americans own cell phones and 81 percent of them talk on those phones while driving”(Beth). “Twenty Eight percent of all accidents in the United States are caused by drivers talking on cell phones or texting”(Beth).
When a doctor raises an issue with an individual, it has a lot more significance than a side note on a billboard or a warning label on a box. Many people won’t stop smoking by just reading the warning labels on the ciggerette boxes. On the other hand there are many cases where a person stops smoking once their doctor tells them it is harming their body and if they don’t stop they could possible end up dying. This relates a lot with distracted driving. When a professional makes a point and stays with it that if you drive distracted then you have a much greater chance of crashing then more people are prone to listen.
Many people argue that if you are on a hands free device then it isn’t classified as driving distracted. An MD Amy Ship thinks otherwise. She made a great point to her patients who argued this with her. She said; “How would you feel if the surgeon removing your appendix talked on the phone, hands-free of course, while operating? ” (Beth). These arguing patients quietly hushed down finally agreeing with her. Whether it’s putting on makeup or even shaving, you will never be completely focused on the road unless you put down everything else.
Not only does the younger driving generation get conversely affected by the use of hand held devises, but the older generation does as well. In a recent study using high tech simulators, both the 18 to 25 age group and the 65 to 74 age group reacted slower when talking on the phone. When a driver reacts slower, it gives them a much higher chance of rear ending the car infront of them. In this same study, the researchers figured out that older drivers are all around more catious than younger drivers. For what ever reason, this is the case; they are always going slower, therefore they do stop faster.
But on the other hand, because they go so slow, they are more likely to get rear ended by a driver using there cell phone. When someone is driving and looking at their cellphone to text or make a call, that split second that they dont keep their eyes on the road can make all the difference. A driver cannot react to something that they do not see. It is impossible. Even if they are looking at the road and they are on the phone, that isn’t good enough. Just because someone is looking doesnt mean they are paying attention. Drivers need to focus.
When a driver is on the phone and out on the road, on average they are 18 percent slower to react to brake lights. It is not because they do not see the lights come on, they do. It is just that there brain is mutli-tasking. It is trying to have a conversation and with all of the input flowing into the brain from that, the human brain cannot register the break lights of the car infront of them turning on as fast. A lot of the time that split second longer that it took for the driver to comprehend the lights turing on, on the car infront of them is the difference between life and death.
People do not always die when their car is crashed into by a driver under the influence of technology’s car. But a lot do. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis has estimated numbers for U. S. deaths related to drivers using cell phones, and in the year 2002 that estimation was 2,600 deaths (Cohen). It is hard to get information on cell phone use by motorists, so it was a wide range of uncertainty for the researchers. The estimaiton of deaths by the HCRA ranged from 800 to 8,000. The researchers also pointed out that in the United States there is a high rate of increasing cell phone use.
This is a scary thought. “In the year 2000, the estimated cell phone use while driving related deaths was 1000. Just two years later it was estimated to have jumped over 1,600” (Cohen). Just imagine what the death tole could be at today. “Each year 42,000 people die in U. S. auto accidents” (Cohen). Think of how many of those lives could be spared if drivers all over America would just focus while driving. If drivers could just pull over to the side of the road when an important call came up, they would be putting themselves and a lot of other drivers out of unwanted danger.
Everyone thinks that could never happen to me. I’m a good driver. I will only look at my new text for a few seconds. What’s the harm? Well the harm could be a human life. Every driver, young and old, good or bad need to realize the importance of the issue. They have to weigh the marginal benefit to the marginal cost. Is texting your girlfriend back five minutes earlier really worth the risk of seriously injuring or maybe even killing another human being? If drivers will just think of it like that, we would all be a lot safer on the roads.
Drivers need to start asking themselves questions like is there a family of five driving a head of me? Would I want to have their lives on my mind for the rest of my life? Questions like this will help all of us. Not only does driving distracted endanger life, but it endangers property as well. When driving under any influence, drivers are potentially going to damage property. Whether it is their own or somebody else’s, that is something drivers do not want to do. It will be their fault entirely and they will have to pay for it.
This is another of many reasons that driving while being distracted by cell phones is a bad idea. America can no longer afford to sit back and watch people become injured or killed in automobile accidents because drivers are not being educated about the dangers of driving distracted. Its time to invest in each others’ lives once more and strengthen our expanding communities. The responsibility is ours. After all, our youth and children are worth the extra time and effort it will take to help them understand that driving while distracted can kill people and possibly themselves.