While the ability to communicate away from our homes or work has become a vital tool to connect with family, friends, and emergency management agencies, it has also evolved into a tool of great danger when used while operating vehicle, particularly texting while driving. Texting while driving has become as dangerous to driver and passenger safety as are people driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
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The number of teens killed because of texting while driving has now surpassed the number killed while driving under the influence of alcohol according to Alcohol Problems and Solutions. The website notes that, “Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous Than driving while intoxicated,” according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In a Centers for Disease Control survey conducted on texting while driving, 69% of people owning a cell phone admitted to texting while driving within the 30 days prior to the survey, (CDC). If texting while driving were punishable by law, 69% of all drivers owning a cell phone would be committing a crime. There needs to be strict laws passed in every state that are strictly enforced by law enforcement. Mississippi is one of only nine states that does not have full bans on texting while driving according to a report from MDOT on distracted driving, documented on WLBT Channel 3 News. In states where full texting while driving bans are enforce, the rate of accidents and fatalities has decreased significantly such as in Syracuse, New York where they experienced a 32% decrease in cell phone use and texting (NHTSA). In Hartford, Connecticut they saw a 57% drop in handheld cell phone use and a 72% drop in texting while driving (NHTSA). With these new statistics, NHTSA is planning to expand its campaign to ban cell phone use while driving in a nationwide effort as documented in the journal released in The State of the Nation of Cellphone Distracted Driving from the National Safety Council as posted on their website.
In an article titled, Texting While Driving, found in Issues and Controversies, critics Argue that bans placed on texting while driving are pointless and it is not something easily enforced. The critics believe that it would be easy to mistaken a person simply looking down for someone texting while driving. The supporters of bans on texting while driving feel that the danger is not to the driver that is texting, but to the innocent drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. They believe that the potential danger is equal to that of a drunk driver or someone driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
Some alternative solutions could be used instead of full bans on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, but few of them offer any real safety measure. It would be possible to write a ban that prohibits cell phone use while driving only and not when at stop signs or red lights for example. However from my own personal experience, particularly being a passenger riding with my husband, even using cell phones while stopped causes safety risks and distractions on the roadway. As a passenger I am usually the one hollering the light is green or there is a car behind us, because he is delayed in his response to the change in the flow of traffic from pausing to use his cell phone. If you are distracted at all while driving you cannot react in a timely manner to the things unfolding around you. For example, if an ambulance or other emergency vehicle needs to pass and you are zoned out, because you are texting at a stop light, then someone needing emergency assistance would delayed in getting the help needed.
It all comes down to driver responsibility. If drivers cannot act responsibly behind the wheel then other measures have to be taken such as new laws put in place to protect the innocent people from the irresponsible drivers on the road. If there is anything people are doing to cause a distraction to themselves or another driver, then there should be fines, penalties, and punishments that hold drivers accountable for their actions on the roadways at all times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission Site. Alcohol Problems and Solutions, 2013. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.
Centers for Disease Control Site, www.cdc.gov, 2013.
WLBT Channel 3 News Site, MDOT Distracted Driving, 2013
Web. 17 Apr. 2013.
National Safety Council Site, The State of the Nation, Cellphone Distracted Driving, 2013 Web. n.d. 2013
Drew Evans personal driving experience used for field research.
Issues and Controversies, Texting While Driving, 2010
Web. 11 Oct. 2010