The essay critically gives insight on the concept of text messaging while driving by exploring it. The paper also brings forth the potential consequences of this behavior on the drivers who text, their passengers, other folks on the road, and the greater population in general. In addition, the safety concern of it is brought to light as well as the possible solution measures are discussed. The research question guiding the paper is cell phone and driving a toxic relationship?
It has been widely agreed that most of the drivers in US do texting while they are behind the wheels; statistics show that the phenomenon is on the rise, increasing to110.4billion per month as at December 2008 from 9.8billion a month in December 2005 (Matt, 2010). Texting while driving refers to a situation whereby individuals compose, send and or read text messages, e-mails or making other similar use of internet on mobile devices and at the same time operating a motor vehicle for instance truck, train, cars (Fernando & Jim, 2010). Additionally, various researches on driving while using cell phones concluded that the phenomenon is dangerous the notion is shared by majority of individuals who are cell phone user. Such distracted driving constantly in the rise is a growing public safety hazard and something needs to be done to save life.
Cell Phones and Driving
Using cell phones while driving is six times likely to cause an accident or near crash event compared to driving while being drunk. Similarly a survey by National Insurance established that 18% of those who own mobile phones text and drive. The most frequent texters are aged between 16 and 30 years. Another survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance Group showed that 37% of teenagers are of the opinion that the phenomenon is very or extremely destructive, 46% of these teens admitted to be destructed by texting. Similarly, 85% of adults are of the same opinion. Young males, 74% were more likely to be involved in distracted fatal crashes as a result of using cell phones. The major kinds of collision are rear-end, head-on and non-vehicular. Most of these occur in urban locations as compared to rural areas (Fernando & Jim, 2010).
Another research by Alderman clearly depicted that texting while driving is much more risky and of greater safety concern compared to driving while drunk. When legally drunk, his stopping distance from 70mph increased by 4ft, by contrast, reading an e-mail added 36 ft and sending text added 70ft. Statistics also reveal that there are over 23% chances of causing a motor car accident if individual text while they are driving. Despite all these information, close to 50% of drivers between age 16 and 24 years and 22% aged between 35 and 44 years say they have texted while driving in a number of occasion.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration one of the agencies in the Department of Transport revealed that in 2009 5,870 people died as a result of crash, all these cases involved a destructed driver. 3% of these 189 deaths were linked to cell phone being the cause of destruction. Mobile phones have been attributed to 10% of the reported incidences. In cases that were not fatal, 979 crashes out of 349,668 are attributed to texting behind the wheels. Despite the argument that using hands-free cell devices might help, studies have shown that such drivers although direct their gaze on objects, they cannot `see' as their attention has shifted to the conversation through the cell phones (Strayer & Drews, 2007)
Among the notable crashes and closely linked to texting behind the wheels include; killing of Danny Oates in August 29th, 2007, Heather Leigh in January, 3rd 2008. One that will remain in the memories of American is the 2008 Chatsworth train collision that left 25 people dead and scores seriously injured. Research shows that when texting , reading SMSes or mail it is obvious that the individual behind the wheels takes an average of 4 to 5 seconds of their eyes off the road and a times their hands off the steering wheel, this can be a perfect situation for an accident to occur assuming that the car is moving at a higher speed (Austin, 2009). No wonder, it has been said loosing concentration while driving even for a few seconds can be disastrous and fatal. This is because; cognitive reasoning and the time for response will be prolonged thus higher chances of crashing.
Additionally, distraction caused by texting make the culprit not to see what happens on the road that warrant their attention, as this conspires they won't be able to react. Scientifically, human beings need at least a second to process the changing events on the road and then act. While travelling at 60mph, for one to come to a stand still, it takes an average of six seconds (McGarva et al. 2006). This is a small span in time to avoid errors, coupled with the 4-5 seconds of not paying attention to the road happenings, and then accident occurrence is inevitable.
Consequences of using cell phones while driving.
Texting while driving has become a safety concern, this is coined in the fact that the secretary for Transport has stepped in to help fight the menace. It is no doubt that an accident will either result to death, serious and permanent injuries and finally loss of property. It is worth noting that distracted driving by the sense that it does not result to accidents, it causes inconvenience to other road user which may result in jams slowing down traffic. This loss of time probably translates to economic loss. On the same note, cell phone users in most cases block ways for others eliciting anger and aggression.
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As suggested by McGarva et al. 2006 a number of score have either lost their lives or are permanently deformed. For instance, inquiry into the Chatsworth train collision revealed that the crew responsible or signal reading and interpretation was busy sending and receiving SMSes just before the collision. He seemed not to have heeded the red signal, as a result twenty five people lost their lives on the spot and many more of the passengers got very serious injuries. In other cases, especially the one in 2007 involving Victoria and Curtis, the later suffered permanent brain injury. Similarly, the damage caused to human body, the vehicles as well as the cost incurred by insurance company runs in excess of $43billion annually not mentioning that loss of human life has no price tag.
According to Austin, 2009 measure put in place varies from state to state. Currently, 20 states have completely banned texting while behind the wheels. The notable one is when US President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting all federal employees not to indulge themselves in texting while driving government vehicles. This has brought mixed reactions as it seems a majority supports the ban and there are some who are of the contrary opinion. Imposing a fine has also been used; similarly education and awareness program put in place seem to be an option when well executed can yield results.
There are those of the opinion that instead of imposing harsh rules and penalties, they propose a system where car manufactures and mobile phone manufactures cooperate and come up with technologies that would disable text future when in a moving car, but should include proximity sensor to only affect the person behind wheels (Walter, 2010). The problem with some of the measures especially fines and outlawing can be difficult to enforce for the case of outlawing and for the fines, no fines can bring back the life of human.
From the review of cell phone Cell Phones and Driving, the distraction of using the former has led to serious consequences in the recent past hence the a toxic relationship. Statistics reveal that more male are at higher risk of causing accidents while using cell phones, the consequences of such distraction include fatal accidents that leave individual death, permanently and seriously injured, anger and aggression of other drivers among others. To curb the menace, there is need to take necessary steps such as completely banning cell phone use while driving, imposing heavy fines, texting while behind the wheels and developing technologies that would disable text features when in a moving car. In my opinion, a combination of these measures to curb the phenomenon can help arrest the situation.