Society has become reliant on technology in the past 20 years. Technology fuels a huge chunk of people’s daily lives, from education to business use. One good example of these modern-day technologies includes the use of mobile phones. Nowadays, a mobile phone is considered a basic necessity as it has become the primary mode of communication for most people. It helps people communicate with their family while business people use it to effectively communicate with business partners and clients.
However, the misuse of this technology is very real. One of the most common cellphone-induced dangers is driving while texting. With the increasing number of vehicular accidents, driving and texting can become a fatal combination.
According to the poll conducted by Harris Interactive, around 37% percent of Americans send text messages while driving. The number is equal to the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the reports by the US Department of Transportation, around 660,000 drivers in the United States drive while using mobile phones or any similar electronic devices. Age appears to be a non-essential factor as driving while texting is prevalent among people across different age brackets. However, teens are usually the ones who violate this traffic rule.
The Dangers of Distraction Driving
According to the distraction.gov site managed by the US government, 11 percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 involved in vehicular accidents were using their mobile phones just before they crashed. Another statistic that needs to be considered is the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center wherein 40% of the American teens surveyed admitted that they have traveled in a vehicle wherein the driver uses a mobile phone while driving.
Since a person only has two hands, there is a restriction on the number of tools that he can use simultaneously. One of the first things that are being taught to students in Driver’s Ed is that both hands need to be on the wheel all the time and any unnecessary hand activities can lead to danger while on the road.
The human eye and the head also play a crucial role when driving. It is not advisable to take the eyes off the road for an even just five seconds, especially if traveling at a speed of 55 mph. Checking text messages while driving can take your eyes and attention away from the road. Even just a split second of deviation from the road can lead to a fatal accident.
The Dangers of Texting while Driving Scientifically Explained
The billions of neurons in the human brain can process information at an impressive rate of 1000 times per second, making it one of the body’s marvelous organs. However, there is a limitation to the brain’s capability to multitask since the brain switches among tasks in a linear manner. Neurons that are firing instructions to a person’s finger while texting are not capable of alerting the driver of a possible barrier ahead due to a split second inalertness.
According to the founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, psychologist David Greenfield, people cannot resist the impulse to check their text messages even when they are driving. This is because dopamine, a chemical in the brain responsible for making a person happy, is being released every time a person receives pleasurable information from his or her mobile phone. The constant SMS and social media notifications can increase a person’s impulse to check their phones right away.
Laws that are being Introduced
Although common sense dictates that driving and texting are two things that should not be done simultaneously, there are still individuals who continually neglect the danger. This prompts government agencies around the world to create laws and impose restrictions on the use of electronic devices while driving. Most of these laws are directed to the use of mobile phones while driving and involve hefty fines if caught.
The US National Safety Council continually advocates the ban of mobile phones while driving, the prudent course of action is to turn the phone silent and hide it somewhere out of reach before turning the car key. On the other hand, laws that ban the use of mobile phones while allowing the use of hand-free devices provide no safety value at all to drivers as this can provide them the false belief that they’re safe since no physical phone is in use. They can still get distracted and get into an accident.
Talking on the phone (even on hands-free) or texting while driving can put not only yourself in danger, but also the passengers and other motorists as well. A text message is not worth it if it means that you endanger your life and other people’s lives. As much as possible, put your phone in silent mode or totally turn it off while on the road. If you feel the urge to call someone or respond to a text message, you can pull over anytime. It will only take a few minutes at most. This simple course of action can save a lot of lives.