To the Drivers of the World
As a member of mankind (who is working toward obtaining a driver’s license) I want to write to you regarding an issue about which I am concerned.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the United States in 2015 there were 3,477 deaths caused by distracted driving and “391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver”(qtd. In CDC Motor Vehicle Safety) ”. Distracted driving is driving while doing anything that takes your attention away from driving. According to DMV, “Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving”( Texting & Driving).
People admit that they text while driving despite knowing the dangers. There are many factors that contribute to this irrational behavior. I hope that in articulating some of thought processes and reasons behind texting while driving, it will become clear that they do not make sense it will be easier to avoid them. Some factors that contribute to texting and driving are overconfidence of drivers, influence of the environment and lack of an inherent feeling of danger when texting and driving.
In a survey by It can Wait a campaign of AT&T 98% of the drivers said that texting and driving is dangerous despite which nearly 75% admitted that they engage in texting related activities while driving or stopped at a red light (or stop sign)!
Aline Holzwarth of behavioral scientist posits that this dissonance is because people overestimate their personal driving skills. They think “yes. This behavior is dangerous and the rest of the world should not do it. But I, because of my superior driving ability, can do it safely” She cites a survey by Allan F.Williams, published in the Journal of Safety Research in which_3 out of 4 people thought that their driving skills are “above average”.
This is a fallacy, you can’t all be above average! Furthermore, even if you are an exceptionally skilled driver, how can you drive without looking at the road? Acording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed(CDC)”
Another factor that promotes texting while driving is the influence of the environment.Department of Sociology & Political Science, Tennessee Tech University , Cookeville, Tennessee. Says” exchanging text messages in public, and consequently texting while driving, has become normalized. Furthermore, people are socialized into such behaviors through observing others texting while driving and using a mobile recklessly while driving.’’
Chris Weller writing for Medical Daily comments on this: We tend to think, usually erroneously, that if a certain behavior is more widely practiced, it’s probably safer. (After all, why would so many people put themselves at risk?)” He illustrates that this is not neccesarily true given that overeating is widespread in America though the risks are known.
The Following Is Made up by Me or Presumably True From Source
Finally there is the challenge of acting on what we know intellectually even though it does not feel dangerous. As Holsworth explains ”We may recognize on a cognitive level that distracted driving is stupid, but we have no accompanying visceral feeling of fear, no associated emotion to guide our decision-making in the moment of temptation.” So while we intellectually realize that this is a dangerous behavior it takes effort to internalize this on an emotional level.
To combat this Holsworth suggest watching a ghastly car accident video and mentally replaying it when tempted to text while driving. What adds to the lack of feeling it is that as Holsworth says “Brains respond to feedback” and if in the past people have texted without consequences. They reasonable to infer that are able to do it safely.”
If you text while you drive because you and only you can get away with it safely or because everyone else does it or because you feel that it’s okay then you are wrong. And even if you are content with these rationalizations, please consider the others you are affecting. The other drivers on the road should not have to suffer from your insanity. And if you are driving passengers you are even more directly responsible. Talking on phone is almost as bad.