Texting while driving is a widespread epidemic in the United States that has unfavorable effects on our society.“Driving while texting is the standard wording used for traffic violations” (Bernstein). It causes many people to be distracted which can lead to accidents. “Eighty-nine percent of people own a cell phone” (Gardner). That is a plethora of people that are at risk of texting while driving. Also, texting has increased by ten times in three years(Bernstein). “The risk of a crash for those who are texting is twenty-three point two times greater than those who are not” (Gardner).Driving drunk only makes a person seven times more likely to be in a crash (Bernstein). This means texting while driving is three times more dangerous than driving intoxicated. One in five drivers admits to texting while driving(Gardner). This shows that that texting while driving is a widespread epidemic. When a survey asked teenagers whether they text and drive,“seventy five percent of teens admitted to texting while driving” (7).Distracted driving causes seventy-eight percent of car crashes(Bernstein). “No distraction causes as high of a risk of an accident as texting while driving” (Gardner). Also with these statistics, it is not hard to understand why accidents in teenagers that are driving have risen. The Bluetooth capability in cars gives a driver a hands-free way to talk on the phone, but is still not completely safe (8). Also, only 1 out of 3 US cars sold in 2009 had this feature. New systems are being developed that will use Bluetooth as well a global positioning technology to allow parents to monitor cell phone use and texting while driving (10).Order now
The physical effects of people texting while driving that is involved in a crash can be deadly. Broken bones, bruises, cuts and head trauma can be possibilities when involved in a car crash from texting. Head-on crashes are more likely when people are texting because the car can easily move over into the other lane while a person has their head down. “Madison said,’ I looked down to text, then I looked up and I was off the road.’” (9). Head-on crashes can increase the severity of injuries because of the impact.Texting while driving increases the frequency of accidents and the severity of injuries(Gardner). Having one hand off the wheel can also make it difficult to control the vehicle. Another source stated texting while driving requires at least one hand to be off the wheel (Gardner). “ A young boy also said, ‘My dad drives like he’s drunk, his phone is just sitting right in front of his face and he puts his knees on the bottom of the steering wheel and tries to text’” (Gardner). In this case the person did not have any hands on the wheel; the man is using his knees to drive.
Young drivers are still learning the basics of driving. They do not have experience behind the wheel and do not know how to react to different driving situations because of lack of experience. These drivers do not need extra risks for causing accidents. Additionally, a driving simulator, which is a small machine, can show teenagers what it is like to text and drive without injury.It also serves to educate the students on the dangers of texting while driving. “A local policeman said,’We are trying to give people the opportunity to realize the risks without having to go to the hospital’” (7).All driving teenagers should have the chance to experience the driving simulator. It may prevent a false sense of confidence in teenagers that think they are capable of driving and texting without causing an accident. AT&T also showed a powerful documentary at the simulator seminar called The Last Text(7). This shows that even large companies realize the magnitude of the problem at hand. Having a phone company who provides cell phones to teenagers to show this to teenagers is a step in the right direction. Many phone companies are creating auto reply messages to alert someone that a person is driving (7). Finally, “AT&T’s slogan is ‘it can wait’ and the motto is ‘No text is worth dying for’” (7).
The mental effects of people texting can also be dangerous as well. When a person is trying to text and drive, it causes a reduction of their driving ability. Texting while driving causes an overload of information on a person’s visual, cognitive, and manual brain functions(8). This means that a person’s brain becomes very over encumbered with information that can make seemingly easy tasks become much more difficult.Also, texting while driving causes impaired visual scanning, impaired ability to react appropriately, and impaired situation awareness(8). Impaired visual scanning simply means a person may not see someone pulling out or braking if they are texting while driving. An inexperienced driver should always have their eyes on the road so they can be fully aware of what is happening around them. Every time a teen gets behind the wheel, they need to be alert, and proactive in preventing accidents. Teens should not only be able to see what is in their lane, but be aware of the traffic coming toward them. Next, impaired ability to react appropriately means a person may not react to a changing traffic light and cause an accident. Many instances can arise that may cause the driver to react appropriately in a timely fashion.
It could be another car, a pedestrian or even an animal crossing the road. Lastly, impaired situation awareness may influence a person to make a wrong decision such as running a stop sign. Texting and driving makes a person need more time to react to different circumstances that could happen while driving. To send a text when traveling 55 miles per hour, a car can travel one hundred yards, the length of a football field, before the person will look up (9). This is a very dangerous habit that is proved by the football field statistic. “Also as Partridge said, ‘Put it down and drive the vehicle. It only takes a second to takes someone’s life’” (Czebiniak). This is a breathtaking statement. Another example is an average text takes about six seconds to send; four point six of the seconds will be spent without looking at the road(Bernstein). This shows that even if a person thinks they are a skilled driver, they cannot drive without seeing the road. “As Dr. Geoffrey Steinberg said, ’DWT is like driving blindfolded’” (9). This shows that a person has very little control over their car while texting and driving.According to the researchers, parents are a frequent recipient of these texts, which often share where and what the teen is doing. It’s important for parents to know where their children are and what they are doing but they need to make sure they are texting them before they start the car to drive. (8)
Finally, the most important and life-changing effects are the economic effects. Many different states are placing fines on texting now; this has changed in the past ten years. The laws may need to become stricter for teenagers to take the penalties more seriously. “Many states still only charge a fine for causing a death while texting and driving” (9). This shows laws are still not nearly as strict as they should be.“If a person crashes their car while texting, it can increase the severity of damage because head on crashes are more likely and the person driving will have to pay for damage to both cars as well as the medical expenses from the injuries” (Gardner). Charges are being brought to drivers that are texting while driving. It can be a loss of their driver’s license and repeated offences can bring about more severe punishment. Also, if there is a death involved during the crash, homicide charges can be brought up on the person and it may consist of jail time and court costs.Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning texting while driving. Nine states prohibit teenagers from texting while driving (5). Senator Charles Schumer of New York introduced legislation that withhold twenty-five percent of federal highway funding if a state does not put into effect some type of texting ban (5).
“The Chief of Oxford Police Partridge described how a man reacted after hitting a pedestrian, ‘He realized he was texting while driving, dropped his phone, and took off’”. The man that was hit, Suddarth, died on impact. The man who hit Suddarth may face homicide charges. “Partridge, the policeman who was on the case stated, ‘I certainly hope this is a wake-up call, especially to anybody who decides to text and drive’” (Czebiniak). Another case was Reggie Shaw. As the source stated, “Shaw wrecked his car while texting and killed two people” (9). Now, Shaw travels the world educating people on the dangers of texting while driving. “Reggie only spent thirty days in jail, today he would spend fifteen years in jail” (9). This shows that restrictions used to be too lackadaisical, but now penalties are starting to become more strict and enforced. “’Texting drivers are easy to spot. Like drunken drivers, they’re the ones going too slow or too fast, or weaving’, says Gregory Massak, ‘the police chief of Shirley, Mass. “They’re concentrating more on than on driving.’”(5)
It is easy to see why teens would text and drive because it is the way they communicate with each other. One source stated, “40% of teens have ridden with someone using a phone” (Genachowski). However, the negative effects brought on by texting and driving outweigh the benefits of being able to communicate while a person is driving. “In the last year, there have been 100,000 crashes which involved texting while driving”(Genachowski). All of those wrecks were preventable, because they were caused by someone not following the rules. One in six fatal crashes are caused by distracted driving(9).The physical, mental, and economic effects that texting and driving can cause can be detrimental to all that are involved. One source said,” Texting while driving is the most death provoking action to do while driving” (Bernstein). This statement shows that texting while driving is not a problem people should laugh about; this is a serious and even life-threatening problem. Teenagers need to realize, through parent and peer education, that the responsibility of driving a vehicle is extremely important. It should be taken seriously at all times and the main focus while driving should be keeping the car on the road. Texting can cause a teenager their own life as well as the lives of others. Teenagers need to lead by example and refuse to text and drive. The motto parents should teach each teenager should have is “On the road, off the phone” (Genachowski). Teenagers need to realize whatever they need to say or what someone else needs to tell them can wait until they park the car and can look at their phone.
Bernstein, Racheal. “Text Messaging Laws and the Effects of Texting While Driving.”
Vanderbuilt University HealthPsychology. October 2009. Web.1 April 2014. http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbuilt.edu/2009/TextingDriving.htm.
Czebiniak,Madasyn. “Oxford Police Make Arrest in Fatal Hit-and-Run.” The Anniston Star. 26
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Gardner, Lisa A. “Wat 2 Do Abt Txt’n and Drv’n (Aka: What to do About the Problem of
Texting While Driving?) (Cover Story).” CPCU Ejournal 63.11 (2010): 1. Web.
Genachowski, Julius. “ The Dangers of Texting While Driving.” Federal Communication
Commision Web. 1 April 2014. http://www.fcc.gov/guides/texting-and-driving.