English 100 University Writing
October 21, 2012
The idea of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, for most people, is one not spoken of, but what about modern society’s other driving taboo? Texting while driving has become a dangerous and sometimes deadly habit that has been considered equally or more reckless to drunk driving in recent years. With both texting while driving and drunk driving being controversial issues, there is undoubtedly an argument for either topic.
These two driving faux pas’ have been dually tried and tested by numerous studies and have been proven to be fatal additions to driving (Altice, 2012), however comparing the two as to ask “which is worse” has had no universally accepted answer. For many of us, the answer may seem obvious and there may be no comparison between the two dangers. A person may conclude that although texting while driving has been proven to be dangerous, it does not alter one’s perception and inhibitions the way alcohol does. One may argue that alcohol has a much more dangerous, debilitating effect on the body and mind than any cell phone could possibly ever have.
These facts are of relevance and provincial governments have also taken notice. The legal limit of alcohol for a person operating a vehicle has changed multiple times over the years. It is currently illegal to have a blood alcohol level over 0.05% while driving in BC (ICBC, n.d.) and there is presently almost no tolerance for alcohol influence behind the wheel in all other Canadian provinces. Not only has the government’s laws surrounding the issue become continuously more firm, the consequences for breaking them have also become more severe. With the repercussions going from a towed vehicle or a fine to a suspended license or a very large fine (ICBC, n.d.), it’s no doubt a solid attempt to keep drunk drivers off the roads.
With the number of people being killed by impaired drivers decreasing by 45% in the first 12 months that BC introduced tougher laws, it’s obvious that the laws have made an impact. Traffic fatalities have been on the decline in Canada and the U.S. since 2005 but a report done by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say that as of 2010, the trend could very well be changing (Vaughan, 2012). Why the increase? Experts suggest that a new epidemic of distracted driving (including texting while driving) has become the newest threat on the road and is the reason for the once again rising number of motor vehicle related incidents (Vaughan, 2012). Texting has become one of the most popular forms of communication among North Americans in recent years. It quickly became a skill that most individuals had finely tuned, not unlike sending an email or even tying a shoe. There is no doubt then that a person would feel confident sending a quick text while simultaneously also being able to practice safe driving skills. What could possibly be harmful or dangerous about a little multi-tasking? Before much research had been done on the issue, most people would see no correlation between sending a text while driving and car accidents, certainly not fatal ones. Without research there isn’t an obvious commonality between what had been known to be reckless (drunk driving) and texting behind the wheel.
What may have been once thought of as harmless has certainly been deemed the opposite in recent years with every Canadian province now banning all use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle (CAA, n.d.). What began as a law that stated no person may talk on a mobile device while driving, unless it is a hands-free system, was later modified to include texting. If caught breaking the laws against cell phone use, a person could be fined an amount of $167.00 in BC (Altice, 2012). Although the consequences of breaking cell phone laws may not be as threatening as the laws against impaired driving, texting is now