Why You Shouldn’t Text and Drive
Last updated Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022
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Texting and Driving Can Wait: The Importance of Having Patience Behind the Wheel
Motor vehicle accidents are still a huge problem that takes so many loved ones daily. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), among ages ranging from 1 – 44 years, the leading cause of death is unintentional accidents, one of those coming from motor vehicles. Many people lose their focus while driving, and when you add distractions, miles per hour, the percentage of concentration, and the color of a streetlight, to name a few, can result in either a lucky save or a devastating story.
What is the Number One Cause of Car Crashes?
Unfortunately, there are numerous explanations for distracted driving, and each case is different depending on the driver and their circumstance. For instance, most people in the United States believe time is money, and the idea of finishing a business phone call on the way to a destination rather than in a stationary spot can achieve the idea of conquering: ‘two birds with one stone.’ In addition to, having a phone call with a relative and using the “thanks for bringing me home!” statement in hopes of smoothly ending a conversation, rather than talking for hours at home. Nonetheless, the result of distracted driving sprouts from the demand of moving quickly and efficiently and with the hopes of saving some time, and although the idea has good intentions, is it worth it? In this article, I hope to examine and explain why you should not text and drive.
Although there are numerous causes that occur from a car crash, the number one cause is distracted driving. To clarify, talking or texting while driving is a substantial risk, but there are other forms of distracted driving, not just interactions with a cellphone. Additionally, drivers can also be distracted from pets, excessive conversations, music, eating, or anything pertaining to makeup applications. Regardless of the distraction, any inhibitor that takes away from driving can lead to disastrous consequences. The main issue of any distracted driving is the potential of affecting others harmfully and unfortunately, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) 1 out of 10 crashes are related to distracted driving and make up for more than 3,000 deaths per year.
The main question frequently mentioned when you hear about freak accidents is: “how could something like this happen”, especially with car accidents. When it comes to car crashes, most of the time they are rooted in the same issue: distracted driving. In the state of Georgia alone, there are more than 1,720 drivers involved in accidents daily, 151 in Atlanta per day and 3-7 a day in Paulding County, my hometown. Yes, as we shorten our radius of the state of Georgia, the number of accidents goes down; however, there are still so many lives lost due to distracted driving. Personally, I have had friends and families involved in crashes, such as head-on collisions, rear-ending resulting in a fire, and other life-threatening collisions, and to my knowledge, they all were a result of the other drivers not being completely focused. Ironically, doing something for what could seem like a ‘quick’ second could change someone for the rest of their lives.
Why Do People Drive Distracted?
The major reasons people continue to text and drive are habit, anxiety, or recklessness. Recent updates from major companies such as Apple or Samsung have their devices monitor the users’ screen time. Recent articles learned Americans check their phone more than 340 times a day which is about every four minutes. It is fair to say a sizable percentage of cellphone users are attached to their cellular devices and find it difficult to set the phone aside for more than ten minutes. Some researchers took a further step and investigated the psychological steps toward understanding the obsession with cellphones being both close to the users and used so often. Specifically, this study investigated college students’ anxiety levels when it came to having their smartphones and the possibility of missing events or opportunities. From that study alone it concluded that students have higher induced anxiety and attachment to their cellphone. I would say that cellphones and technology give wonderful resources but can also provide the biggest distractions.
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Is Drunk Driving as Dangerous as Texting or Phone Calls?
Whenever people compare driving under the influence versus using a mobile device, I would consider driving drunk or high more fatal. I considered it reckless and selfish since the driver only thought of themselves instead of other people on the road, and for a while, I thought using a mobile device was harmless, and not as dreadful as being under influence. More than likely I felt this way because I was exposed to mobile devices and prior to law changes, I saw my relatives having their phones in their hands during a phone call, or on speaker, while we were in the car together. As I got older, they started to use my siblings and me to send emails, or text messages while we were at stop lights and even now, they do their best to limit using their phones while driving as well as paying attention to younger drivers in the car to limit any other distractions. With that said, I never assumed phone calls or texting as equally bad as driving while intoxicated. Ironically, I consider drunk driving worse, even though, statistically speaking, texting is worse, and they both are reckless acts. Either way, both are risking that takeaway from the driver’s focus and could result in someone’s death.
Driving under the influence, regardless of the amount, can have an impact on one’s driving and in a sense, can be as dangerous as a phone call or texting; however, texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving while under the influence (NHSTA). Although texting while driving is more irrational than while drinking, drivers find themselves texting anyway, and they still feel inclined to text even with the possibility of being caught by the police (American Automobile Association). To be clear, anything that causes a driver to take their hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, and or mind off driving is dangerous.
In summary, I would consider both drunk driving and texting or phone calls while driving to be hazardous tasks that can take someone’s life away in the blink of an eye and can be easily avoided in potential crashes. The best advice I have been given when driving is that if you miss an exit, you can always go back, if you feel like you need to pull over, first find somewhere safe and pull over and most important: take your time! Having patience is one of the most important things I have heard from both my parents and from the driving school that runs through my head while I drive, and if I feel in some rush, and I would argue that those ideas can be translated into preventing distracted driving and drunk driving. Although I do not have any experience when it comes to the two: distracted driving and driving under the influence, both have a common factor, a motor vehicle. To lower the likelihood of a crash, the easiest answer is to, if you are intoxicated, call someone to get you or if you feel distracted by your cellphone, turn it off or stop somewhere safe. It is known that there are numerous other tips and tricks for people to keep themselves and others around them safe; however, it does not ensure that the driver will take accountability or responsibility to make the right and safest decision.
What is More Dangerous While Driving, Texting, or Phone Calls?
Prior to my research, I assumed that texting is more intricate than phone calls since there is always an opportunity to add emojis for personalization or gifs to get some extra laughs. Regardless, texting exemplifies individuality from person to person and, regardless of professional or personal, it takes a lot of effort. Because of that required effort to send a text message, I had a feeling there would be more room for error with texting while driving as opposed to phone calls. Phone calls are still a major issue due to the distraction a driver undergoes; it is still a hazard that could lead to fatal accidents. The National Safety Council (NSC) accounted that phone calls are still not fully aware of the road environment and can cause drivers to daydream, tail too closely to other vehicles, and fail to follow traffic signals.
There are countless apps from companies that provide restrictions to drivers to ensure they are focused while behind the wheel. For example, Apple has made many steps toward encouraging drivers to use the driving focus mode which ensures people get an automated message, notifying them that the iPhone user is currently driving. During this focus mode, the user will experience little to no interruptions while driving. I love this feature on my iPhone, especially when coming home from college since it restricts me from picking up my phone while driving and I can stay focused as well as have a clear head while on the road for hours.
Other options made by companies include:
- On My Way.
Realtime GPS locations are popular apps that aid drivers to remain focused solely on driving. The apps listed all share the same goal of eliminating distractions to drivers while they are behind the wheel. To be specific, these apps can block out phone numbers, or texts and can lock the phone when it senses that there is someone driving.
Aside from apps to assist in driving restrictions, there are other tools implemented to help and educate drivers, both new and old, on the importance of maintaining focus while driving. Driving school is one of the most preventative and educational programs with the hopes of teaching newer drivers how to learn the road, but also to ensure their safety and of other drivers around them. I can say firsthand as a driving school graduate, that those videos, documentaries, and personal stories resonate with me when I drive myself, my passengers, and the people around me. The driving school taught me the foundation of defensive driving and being safe while getting from destination to destination. Although many people may not have access to driving schools for their children or newer drivers, there are numerous resources online that help aid in educating and informing the importance of having patience and complete focus while behind the wheel.
Fortunately, the state of Georgia created The Hands-Free Georgia Act that states drivers cannot have their cellphone or related technology touching any part of their body while they drive. Therefore, it is illegal to use a mobile device regardless of whether it is handheld or hands-free. This law passed by Governor Nathan Dean, took place on July 1st, 2018, and has fines ranging from $50.00 to $200.00 and could include point(s) to the driver’s license. Currently, there are 34 states, along with Georgia, that have laws in place to prohibit phone usage while driving. While there are still other states that do not have laws implemented to restrict and potentially prevent distracted driving related crashes, there are still some forms of assistance to drivers to decrease an avoidable tragedy.
Texting and driving are one of the most common and dangerous forms of distracted driving that continues to take people from their loved ones and will forever change those who live to tell the story. Everyone should work towards breaking the habit of using a cellular device while in the car to encourage themselves and others to end a life-threatening habit.