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Stop Texting While Driving


Published on December 14th, 2017 at 01:37 am

By Collin Roth

Imagine a sunny and beautiful fall afternoon. Your plans for the night are to go to your friend’s Halloween party. You spend the whole day planning your costume and you make plans with a few of your friends regarding who’s going to drive. You volunteer because you had the biggest car. It's finally time to head to the party, but you're running a little behind as your costume needed some extra special preparation. You rush to your car and drive off to pick up two of your friends. Your phone keeps buzzing and lighting up with text messages from your friends asking “Where are you?” You decide to open the message because it's the tenth one they've sent in the past five minutes. You then pick up your phone, you type in your password, you read the message, and you reply, “I'm on my way.” Then when you become conscious, you realize you're in the hospital. Your parents are looking over you crying. They tell you that you’ve been in an accident and crossed over into the opposite lane of traffic and hit another car head-on. The other driver didn’t make it. This happened because you were texting an insignificant “I'm on my way” message. It's alarming to think that a scenario like this could happen to any one of us, however it is something that can be prevented if people simply don’t text while driving. Despite limited attraction in its early years, cell phone use has grown dramatically over the years and using this technology while driving has caught the attention of many law-enforcement officials and researchers. They have begun to collect and send out statistics associated with the risks of using a cell phone behind the wheel, which has prompted some local communities and state governments to ban cell phone use, including texting, while driving. Despite the evidence and the new laws passed to prevent this form of distracted driving, people are still texting while driving and there is still a far way to go until cell phone use in the car by drivers is officially stopped. People need to understand that the laws that are beginning to be put into place are not just words on a piece of paper, but are there to prevent the deaths of thousands of people each year. People also have to understand that the risks associated with texting while driving aren’t solely affecting the driver who is using the cell phone, but also the other drivers on the road. These laws cannot be ignored just because people can’t wait a single second to send a text to their friend or family member about something that most definitely can wait. This in turn is setting a bad example for future generations to come as these generation will see parents doing it, which will make it seem okay. This act that is beginning to spread throughout the generations will continue to be one of the leading causes of deaths each year. Although hands-free devices have been introduced to prevent distractions while driving, this is not always the case and does not necessarily decrease the risks associated with texting while driving and can still lead to fatal crashes. Thus, people need to overall realize that using a cell phone or a hands free device while driving is a horrible act and every driver across the world needs to be informed that despite the notions that looking down for a split second to check a text won’t cause any harm, because it in fact can and can lead to a painful, horrific death for not only the driver, but anyone else who may have been involved in the accident. People also need to acknowledge the laws that have been instituted to stop texting while driving and respect them as they are not just some words on a piece of paper and are in reality the difference between life and death.

In the National Conference of State Legislature article, “Cellular Phone and Texting While Driving Laws,” by Anne Teigen, Teigen describes the laws that different states have put into place regarding phone use in the car. Teigen writes, “14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving... No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit any cell phone use for school bus drivers...46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers” (Teigen 1). Teigen describes how some states have started to implement laws to restrict phone usage in the car and now depending on which state a person lives in, people can get into serious trouble if they were to use a cell phone while driving as it is illegal. If people don’t want to get pulled over and face a hefty fine, a person should just simply not use a phone while driving. Even though some states like Montana, for example, don’t have statewide laws directly related to not using a phone while driving, the act of using a phone while driving can lead to driving behavior that is illegal, such as reckless driving and other traffic violations, including running through stop signs and red lights, and crossing over into other lanes or the wrong side of the street. According to the FindLaw article, “Distracted Driving,” which talks about the dangers of distracted driving and the rules that have been put into place to prevent illegal activities, the author notes, “Distracted driving can lead to accidents, injuries, and death, in addition to citations for traffic violations. Distracted driving can also be used as evidence of negligence or recklessness in an injury lawsuit resulting from an auto accident” (FindLaw 1). The author demonstrates how the dangers of distracted driving, which includes using a phone while driving, can lead to reckless behavior. If one were to just not use their phone in the car, one would not be making these ignorant errors and would be saving themselves from a lot of unnecessary time and money despite being very preventable. Also mentioned in the article, injuries and deaths can occur from distracted driving and with the prevention of phone usage in the car, many different lives could be saved and many people wouldn’t have to feel the pain of losing someone they love (FindLaw 1). If one were to follow the rules that have been put in place and not get distracted by their phones, many accidents could be prevented and many lives would be saved.

To continue, people should not use their phones while driving because not only can their own life be at risk, but so can the lives of the other people involved in the accident. A good driver must be able to have good visual, manual, and cognitive skills. However using a cellular device while driving not only prevents one from watching their surrounding, but it also prevents people from being able to fully operate their car successfully. According to the Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock A.P.C. article “Facts & Statistics About Texting & Driving 2016/2017,” by Melinda J. Helbock, Helbock discusses the dangers of texting while driving and what people have been doing to stop it. In the article, Helbock writes, “...the urge to text is almost addictive; people tend to read and answer text messages and cell phone calls immediately. They leave their cell phones turned on so they do not miss any messages or calls. The problem here is that within the few seconds of time used to perform this activity, an accident can occur. The average time taken away from watching the road ahead is just five seconds, but in that time period, a vehicle traveling at 55 mph will go the length of a football field. With attention distracted, it is like driving blindfolded for those few seconds. The results can and often are fatal” (Helbock 1). Helbock is a lawyer based in the San Diego area who covers some of California's most complex injury claims and has dealt with several texting while driving cases. She has observed first hand how dangerous texting while driving is and how in just 5 seconds, one can seriously cause major damage to not only themselves but also to the other people who happen to be in the area during this fatal time. If one would just resist the urge to use their phone, so many deaths could be prevented and many people can continue to live long and productive lives. If people don’t do something to stop phone usage in the car, people will continue to die and the lives of innocent people will be horribly ripped away. According to the IceBike article “The 25 Scariest Texting and Driving Accident Statistics,” by Luke Ameen, Ameen also talks about the dangers of texting while driving and the effects that it has on the world we live in. One astounding statistic Ameen mentioned was, “Over 2.5 million people in the U.S. are involved in road accidents each year. The population of the US is just 318.9 million. At this rate, the American people could be extinct in two human lifespans...Of these, 1.6 million have a cell phone involved in them. That’s 64% of all the road accidents in the United States. Over half the road accidents in the States have cell phones involved, and if this doesn’t make you realize just how potent it is, what will?” (Ameen 3). This is a horrific statistic and Ameen demonstrates how much people need to stop using their phones in the car because if they don’t, the amount of deaths that result from these accidents could lead to a major decrease in the human population. People need to understand that one simple text can change several people's lives in just seconds, which is a scary thought, and if an individual could wait to send these texts, many lives could be saved. If people stopped using their phones while driving, we will be able to show generations to come that texting while driving was an epidemic, but was able to be stopped as people started to realize that in order to stop it, people must act responsibly and diligently when entering a car.

Furthermore, people should not use their phones while driving as it sets a bad example for future generations, making it seem like it’s a safe thing to do especially if it’s one’s own parents committing the crime. Children all across the world trust their parents to make wise decisions, and not only are parents setting an example for their kids, but they are showing them how to act when they get to their age. However, when parents use their phones while driving, they are not just putting their own and everyone else in the car’s lives at risk, but they are unknowingly showing their kids that this act is “okay”. According to the USA Today article “Studies: Parents set bad examples for driving teens,” by Kristin Varela, Varela discusses how parents are influencing their children to make bad decisions even when they don’t even realize it. While describing the use of phones while driving, Varela writes, “Parents figuratively beat teens over the head with the "never text and drive" message, yet many do it on a regular basis. A 2012 study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions found 91% of teens reported seeing their parents talk on cellphones while driving. Some 59% witnessed their parents sending a text while driving” (Varela 1). Varela describes how some parents aren’t setting good examples for their children, as using a phone in the car is illegal and can even be fatal. This will lead their children to believe that it’s fine to use a phone while driving as their parents are doing it so therefore why shouldn’t it be okay. This could all be prevented if parents could just do their job and not use their phones while driving. In the NPR segment, “What'd Make You Stop Texting While Driving?” hosted by Neil Conan, Conan talks about the different hazards of texting while driving and what it will take for people to just not use their phone in the car. While describing the kind of example parents have set on their children regarding whether or not they should use their phone in the car and the opinions the children have on the way their parents drive, Conan observes, “Most respondents said their parents engaged in more potentially distracting activities while driving than they did. It must be OK if parents are doing it. They are learning bad habits from us” (Conan 5). Conan demonstrates how parents have been influencing their children to make wrong choices and the only way to stop this is for the parents to acknowledge that they need to change and not use their phones while driving. If parents teach their children from early on not to use their phones while driving, many horrific accidents could be prevented and many innocent lives could be saved. Safe driving means to not be distracted and to constantly be focused on the road, and if parents and their children can learn to just wait to use their phones, accidents all across the world could be prevented.

To make using technology safer while driving, over the years, tech companies have started to introduce hands-free or bluetooth devices that one could use in the car so they wouldn’t have to look down at their phones and so the whole ordeal would be a lot safer. Hands-free devices can include bluetooth headsets and voice recognition systems built into cars. All of these items can allow someone to keep their eyes on the road while driving and can prevent people from losing focus. One can call someone or send a text all without even having to look at their phones. According to the Elite Driving School article, “Pros and Cons of Using a Hands Free Mobile Phone While Driving,” the author describes the pros and cons of using hands-free devices, and while describing the pros, the author writes, “There is no denying that cell phone use behind the wheel contributes to distracted driving. Many drivers believe, however, that the source of distraction is not the phone conversation itself, but rather, the act of typing in a number and then holding a device while driving with a single hand on the wheel. A hands-free mobile phone can minimize such issues, allowing drivers to make calls without ever taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel” (Elite Driving School 1). Elite Driving School is a driving school in the Owning Mills area of Maryland and one of the few AAA-approved driving schools in the country. According to the author, using hands-free devices can make using a phone in a car a lot safer as it prevents drivers from taking their eyes on the road. This, in turn, causes people to believe that we don’t need to ban all cell phones from the car because there are ways to make it less distractful. Also in the same article, the author writes, “The use of a hands free mobile phone may reduce the likelihood of being pulled over” (Elite Driving School 1). Not many states have implemented laws regarding using a hands free device, meaning it’s unlikely that a person would get a ticket and they can keep moving on with their day. Wow, no punishment for using a device while driving! This must mean it’s safe and okay to do, right?

Despite people’s argument that hands free devices aren’t against the law so it must be safe to do, many people don’t realize however hands free devices can still be very distracting and can still cause one to lose focus while on the road. A common misconception with hands free devices is that drivers can multitask and talk to their devices all while trying to focus on the road. Not only is this just false, but hands free devices can end up being just as dangerous, or even worse as just looking at a phone directly. In the Everquote article “Hands-Free Phone Use: Is It Safer?” by Ashley Kane, Kane addresses the claim of hands-free devices helping drivers, and not only debunks this claim, but is able to provide hard cold evidence to support it. Kane notes, “AAA found that impairment lingered for 27 seconds after cognitive distraction involving in-vehicle information systems” (Kane 2). Kane describes how using a hands free devices can impair a driver’s ability to focus on the road and prevents one from driving efficiently. Therefore, hands free devices should also be banned with cell phones from the car because they cause a person to almost forget what they were doing, which is unsafe. Kane also includes in her article, “Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that driver response times were delayed regardless of texting method. Even with hands-free texting, drivers took about 2 times as long to recognize and react to hazards” (Kane 2). Kane again is demonstrating how hands free devices can be even more dangerous than a regular cell phone and there is no reason to continue to allow them in the car. Kane lastly adds, “The National Safety Council discovered that drivers using handheld and hands-free cell phones often look but fail to see up to 50% of their driving environment” (Kane 2). Imagine driving alongside someone who doesn’t realize that you’re there and can in an instant severely injure or kill you. This is why it’s so important to not only ban cell phones from the car, but also hands free devices because not doing anything can cause countless deaths that should have, and could have, been prevented.

In conclusion, using a cell phone while driving needs to be enforced in a greater way as many people are still doing it to this day even though it is illegal, or can lead to other illegal activities like running stop signs and red lights. It is dangerous and can cost the driver’s and many other people’s lives. Texting while driving also sets a bad example for future generations by teaching young people that it’s “okay” to use a cell phone while driving if their parents are doing it. Lastly, even though hands free devices were designed to help make drivers less distracted while driving, they can still cause many drivers to lose focus on the road and are causing many preventable deaths to occur. The next time you enter a car with either you, a friend, or one of your parents sitting in the driver's seat, remember that even a simple “I’m on my way” message can lead to the end of one’s life. Try putting all cell phones in the trunk or somewhere where you or another driver can’t get distracted and won’t be able to send that one fatal message. Will you be the one who is responsible and doesn’t text while driving or will you be the one to send that one insignificant message while driving that could end your life in a matter of seconds?

Works Cited

Ameen, Luke. "The 25 Scariest Texting and Driving Accident Statistics." Icebike. N.p., 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 13 November 2017.

Conan, Neal. "What'd Make You Stop Texting While Driving?" NPR. N.p., 07 June 2012. Web. 13 November 2017.

"Distracted Driving." Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web.13 November 2017.

Helbock, Melinda J. "Facts & Statistics About Texting & Driving 2016/2017." The Law Office Of Melinda J. Helbock A.P.C. Melinda J Helbock A.P.C, n.d. Web. 13 November 2017.

Kane, Ashley. "Hands-Free Phone Use: Is It Safer?" EverQuote. N.p., 29 June 2016. Web. 13 November 2017.

"Pros And Cons Of Using A Hands Free Mobile Phone While Driving." Elite Driving School. N.p., 02 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 November 2017.

Teigen, Anne. "Cellular Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws."National Conference of State Legislature. N.p., 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 13 November 2017.

Varela, Kristin. "Studies: Parents Set Bad Examples for Driving Teens." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 November 2017.

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