Recently “Texas college student Chance Bothe’s last words prior to driving his truck off a cliff were in the form of a text message: “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.” He miraculously survived, but Bothe’s story has become an ironic example of the dangers of texting while driving” (Zafar). Distracted driving has become a worldwide problem that is ending/injuring the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people each year. “A statistic from 2009 declares that in the United States alone 5,474 people were killed on roadways and an additional estimate of 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving” (Aldana). Distracted driving is causing many unnecessary and unintended fatalities and injuries among the drivers and passengers of motor vehicles in the world today; these incidents can be easily avoided if the education of distracted driving is conveyed to all those in possession of a license to operate motor vehicles and the laws being put in place to avoid it are followed and enforced by all.
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In recent years distracted driving can almost be described as a pandemic outbreak with only negative effects on the lives of many humans. Some may ask what is the exact definition of distracted driving it is as follows: “distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Any type of distraction endangers the drivers, passengers, and bystanders safety” (What is Distracted Driving). Drivers are not only responsible for their own safety when operating a vehicle but also for their passengers and those in other vehicles around them on the road. When driving, the driver must maintain the three aspects of driving focused on the road these are visual, manual and cognitive (Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety). Visual is the driver’s ability to see everything occurring around him or her on the road. It is known that it is the driver’s responsibility to keep his or her eyes on the road at all times to make sure there is no prevalent danger that may occur to anyone.
Manual is making sure the driver keeps one or both hands on the wheel while it is being operated; which is also common knowledge to all drivers because it is how it is taught during driver’s education and is a major part of passing the license exam. Lastly cognitive is the driver’s awareness of his or her surroundings while on the road so he or she is able to make smart decisions. One should not be thinking of anything other than the road in front of them when operating a motorized vehicle.
When the topic of distracted driving comes up in conversation it is usually never a good thing, but the typical first thought of any person is texting while driving. Which is “by far the most alarming distraction while driving because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver,” (What is Distracted Driving) consequently meaning all three aspect which should always be focused on the road are taken away making the driver almost blind and oblivious to the road. Texting while operating a vehicle is positively the worst distraction because it has been calculated by scientists that when a driver is “sending or receiving a text message he or she takes their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of this, at fifty-five miles per hour, is driving the length of a football field” (Distracted Driving 2009). Just imagine how many things could go wrong in that amount of road, especially at that speed a great deal of serious damage and possibly even death could result from just that one text message.
However, there are also many other devices and actions the driver may partake in to diverge his or her attention away from the road such as “ using cell phone or smart phone, eating and drinking, talking to a passenger, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video and adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player” (What is Distracted Driving). All these activities are common among every person while driving. Some of these activities being so common for people to do in a car, that some do not even think of them as distracting while operating a motor vehicle, especially the ones where the driver is only eating, drinking or just talking to the passenger. But when we think about it after hearing so many of these statistics we can see how many elements that are crucial to driving can be impaired by some simple multi tasking by the driver to save some time through their day or just making naïve conversation.
With today’s technology world constantly improving and becoming more popular among the world’s people, both older and younger, it comes with its negative effects of increasing the rates/statistics of distracted driving accidents. This is proven by the statistics taken by the Center of Disease Control Prevention, displayed in their document Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety, which states the proportion of drivers reported to have been distracted at the time of a fatal crash has increased from seven percent in 2005 to eleven percent in 2009. Although many may not view this as a huge percent in the first place and maybe no a big increase either, but the though of how simple it is to fix this problem but many are not willing to do so.
Another statistic from 2010 of a national telephone survey on driver distraction shows results of more than three quarters of drivers reported that they are willing to answer calls on all, most or some trips; yet feel unsafe when riding in vehicles in which the driver is texting (Aldana). These negative increases in statistics are surfacing the dire need to educate the public on the hard facts of distracted driving.
The solution being proposed by many organizations today is to educate drivers of the dangers distracted driving poses not only to driver but also to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Although, with this solution comes the responsibility of the people to help spread the education they learn and also help enforce others to act on their new knowledge when operating a motor vehicle. In the two cities of Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York multi-market efforts were made in 2011 to decrease the rate of distracted drivers (Aldana). These pilot projects found dramatic declines in distracted driving, with texting dropping seventy-two percent in Hartford and thirty-two percent in Syracuse (Aldana). Since these pilot projects have shown such a great decrease in distracted driving, which also shows a decrease in motor vehicle accidents, proves effectiveness of educating drivers to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Now that it has proven to improve distracted driving rates many states are taking action against texting while driving.
Also well-known figures of today’s world such as President Obama are getting involved; on September 30, 2009 he issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment (Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety). Also “on October 27, 2010 the Federal motor carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving” (Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety). With the help of these well known figures and the laws being put in place the hopes of decreasing distracted driving rates is slowing becoming a reality. It is seen in recent statistics that many people including average people and even ones in high federal government positions and also state governments are partaking in the challenge to help end distracted driving among all those around them.
The public is beginning to be immersed in the education of distracted driving. They are being taught about all the dangers and hazards it can cause not only in one life but of all those it may affect. As of right now, nation wide there are thirty-nine states plus the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam which have all ban texting behind the wheel; Also ten of the thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam have even gone further by prohibiting all hand-held cell phone use while driving (Aldana). These new laws are in fact decreasing distracted driving rates, however, they are not working at their maximum potential. The new laws also need the support of the people to help enforce these laws on all those they have influence on.
With the people of the world working with the newly enacted laws being put into place soon the fatality and injury rate due to distracted driving will surely decrease and no longer have to be such a stress on those who are on the road. Everyone in the world can save many lives just by simply waiting to do any one of the distracting actions at a time which it is appropriate and safe so no harm will come to the driver or anyone else on the road. Works Cited
Aldana, Karen. “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving.” Distraction.gov.
NHTSA, 07 2012. Web. 15 Oct 2012. . . “Distracted Driving 2009.” Traffic Safety Facts. Department of Transportation, n.d. Web. 15 Oct 2012. . . “Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety.” CDC. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 09 2012. Web. 15 Oct 2012. . . “What is Distracted Driving?.” Distraction.gov. NHTSA, 05 2012. Web. 15 Oct 2012. . Zafar, Aylin. “Man Texts About Needing to Stop Texting, The Drives Off a cliff.” Time. Time, 05 2012. Web. 15 Oct 2012. .