December 5, 2014 Putting The Brakes On Texting While Driving
In recent years, new technology has allowed communication to become instantaneous.
Because of this, texting has become extremely popular. Although texting is quick and convenient, society’s demand for constant communication has had disastrous effects. Texting while driving has been proven extremely dangerous and lethal. Although many states have put restrictions on texting while driving, the laws are lightly enforced and penalties are insufficient.
In addition, many people know about the dangers of texting while driving but continue to do so.
In order to combat texting while driving, punishments for texting while driving must be made heavier and similar to those of driving under the influence of alcohol. This would steer people away from breaking the laws while also creating a negative social stigma surrounding texting and driving.
In the United States, distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents. Cell phone
use is a major cause of distraction. It is estimated that cell phone use while driving contributes to one million car crashes in the United States each year; 200,000 of those crashes are caused by texting while driving (Gershowitz 583). This fact is alarming. What seems like a casual activity can actually cause a significant amount of damage. Clearly, something drastic needs to be done to end texting while driving before these numbers grow any further. One reason why texting
while and driving is so risky is because it diverts the driver’s attention away from the road. The
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that when people text and drive they keep their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds over a six second period. This is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field without looking at the road (Farris 240). The magnitude of the danger of texting while driving seems much more severe when this comparison is made. It is difficult to imagine driving the length of an entire football field without looking. If
Americans knew that this is essentially the same as texting and driving, it would shock them.
Another study showed that short text messages took an average of 37 seconds to type and that 26 of those seconds were spent looking away from the road. While driving, people are constantly faced with pedestrians, traffic lights, and signs. Accidentally overlooking any of these obstacles could be detrimental, and when people text and drive they increase their chances of doing so.
Texting while driving also causes a lack of physical control over the vehicle. When texting while driving, drivers tend to steer with one hand or pin their phone against the steering wheel. This causes errors in steering, and the correction of these errors often results in quick, irregular vehicle movement (Caird 316). Having little control over a heavy metal vehicle is extremely disrespectful to other people on the road. They are forced to avoid the erratic vehicle and could potentially get hit. Thus, texting while driving not only puts the driver’s life at risk, but it also puts other innocent lives at risk. This makes texting and driving a truly selfish act. Texting while driving also significantly increases reaction time. In 2009,
Car and Driver magazine conducted an experiment which tested reaction time when unimpaired, when legally intoxicated, when reading a text message, and when responding to a text message while driving. In the experiment, a car was equipped with a red light that lit up to alert the driver when to brake. The results of the
experiment were shocking. When unimpaired, the driver only took half of a second to hit the brake when alerted. When intoxicated, it took the driver four more feet to come to a complete stop. When texting became involved, reaction time skyrocketed. It