Saturday, December 14, 2013
Texting and Driving: A New Danger on the Road
In February 2009, "an 18-year-old girl plowed directly into the rear of another vehicle (photo not shown). (To see photos go to http://www.snopes.com/photos/accident/intexticated.asp) She was going 70 mph. She apparently never saw them. You see, she had been texting at the time. There was no blowout, no wet road, no curve or hill or fog to limit visibility. This girl clearly should have bee able to see the traffic conditions at least a half a mile ahead had she been looking and not texting. She nearly killed a beautiful 3-year-old child." (Snopes)
Driving on American roads has had many challenges throughout the history of the automobile. Road conditions and vehicle quality were the defining issues of the early 20th century. In today's 21st century, however, roadways are well paved and vehicles have incredible safety standards which are constantly being upgraded. A vehicle now can automatically adjust to any road condition and it can even predict an accident before it ever happens. These amazing features are the pursuit of making vehicles that are nearly flawless. Despite the advances of automobiles, the biggest reason behind car crashes is the result of driver inattention or distraction. We are all familiar with road rage, drinking and driving, driving under the influence of drugs, and eating while driving. Now a new distraction has reared its head in the presence of technology - texting while driving.
Texting and driving is an issue which has really only began to manifest itself within the past decade due to the fact that cell phones are now owned by almost everyone. It "is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country's top killers. Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving and remain safe, but the numbers don't lie." Each year there are 1,600,000 accidents and 330,000 injuries related to texting and driving. It is "about 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated" and 11 teenagers die every single day from this distraction (http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats). This is a HUGE problem which is affecting everyone on the road, and it is slowly devastating the teenage population. Think about it! If your teenage daughter or son, or any of your friends and loved ones for that matter, takes their eyes off the road for even 5 seconds at 55 mph, they will have traveled the distance of a football field completely blind. Anything can happen within a hundred yards and unfortunately there are dozens of pictures of totaled vehicles on the web reminding us of this potential tragedy.
The only way to eliminate this catastrophe is to eradicate texting and driving. This can be done in several ways. First of all, we need to encourage everyone to use hands-free devices when they are communicating in their vehicle. When both of your hands are on the wheel, you have a far greater chance of driving safely. Educational films should be shown in our schools since teenagers naturally find themselves invincible and able to do everything safely. Graphic information and disturbing photos should be provided to the general public through advertisement because it is an assumption by most adults that they can text and drive just fine. This is certainly untrue because I have nearly gotten into a couple accidents just trying to upload the Pandora app on my phone. The biggest way we can all prevent this distraction is to saturate social media with this issue. Put pictures on Facebook and Tumblr showing the horrible accidents and Tweet live instances when there is an accident as a reminder to everyone that texting can wait. In these ways the message is being brought right into the home or person's lap and it needs to be known!
If we implement any and all of the strategies, we can make a difference in the statistics and we can save lives! Listen to the radio DJ telling you not to text and drive. Heed the signs and bumper stickers you see on the road telling you to wait. Exercise your right as an American citizen (yes, citizen, not consumer) to protect our children and loved ones from this senseless act! If you choose to do nothing about this issue than thousands of men, women, and children will die as a result of your inaction. Can you live with yourself knowing you may be responsible in some part for another person's death?