Texting While Driving
It is difficult to think of modern life without mobile devices. They enable people to communicate fast and easy any time and at any place. However, some places are not adjusted to the mobile communication, and cars are one of them. Texting while driving is now a routine activity in the United States, and few think of the possible consequences of this trend. Nevertheless, it contributes to the distracted driving that may result in the increase of the risk of traffic accidents. In particular, according to the statistics, “In 2011, at least 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones, and that is 1.3 million crashes” (Marino, 2012). Therefore, anyone can become a victim of a car accident. If texting while driving is so dangerous, people should consider all its negative consequences before engaging in it.
Before everything else, texting while driving constitutes a visual distraction for the driver. Even 5 seconds are enough to take away one’s attention from the street for texting while driving. If someone is driving at 55 mph, this amounts to driving the length of a football pitch without looking at the roadway (Gardner, 2010). By the way, the statistics reveal the whole picture of the way people spend their times using smart phones in the car. Text messaging captures driver’s eyes off the roadway for the largest amount of time. While the driver receives and creates the messages, especially when a texting conversation takes place, he or she does not look at the road. If the driver constantly glimpses away from the road for reading and typing messages, reaction time to events, detection of hazards and vehicle control suffer. Other activities distract the driver less than that. According to the research data, “text messaging makes up a crash up to 23 times more likely, dialing makes up a crash up to 2.8 times more likely, talking or listening makes up a crash up to 1.3 times more likely, and reaching for device makes up a crash up to 1.4 times more likely” (Marino, 2012).
Second, texting while driving also leads to physical driver distraction. It is easy to imagine how drivers manage to hold the phone and drive the car simultaneously. In order to do so, they have to take a cell phone into one hand and drive a car with their free hand. When one or two hands are used to type on a phone, it will cause the frequency of wheel corrections to be reduced or delayed (Owens, McLaughlin, & Sudweeks, 2011). As expected, it would affect their lateral vehicle control as drivers with busy hands have slower responses to hazards.
Next, those who text while driving spend nearly 10% of their time outside of their lane. Comparing to baseline driving, those at the wheel do not control their vehicle within the lane as accurate. By acting like that, inattentive drivers put all the participants of the road traffic under risk. First, these drivers put the pedestrians under the risk; without paying attention to the road, they are not able to notice the red light and may hit them. Second, they put other drivers under the risk. While other drivers try to follow the rules of the traffic road, they stick to their lanes. When even one participant of the traffic road moves from the lane inappropriately, it forces other drivers to do the same. In that case, the chances for the car accidents increase. Therefore, moving outside the lane is very dangerous when even for a while.
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Apart from that, texting while driving influences the speed at which the car moves. Those who read and type the text messages at the wheel are likely to decrease their speed increasing the space between the vehicles in front of them. This driving behavior disturbs the road balance.
It is the same with driving off the lane. On the other hand, the decreasing of speed is compensated by visual distraction to some degree. In any case, texting while driving interferes with an appropriate driving performance.
Of course, there are people who would disagree with the negative influence of the texting while driving. Many of them continue to do it even after all the statistics and tragic stories of the car accidents. Moreover, according to statistics, “77 % of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving, and 55% of young adults claim it is easy to text while they drive” (Marino, 2012). Such “safe” drivers justify them texting while driving with some of the common excuses. They say that reading a text is not as dangerous as composing and sending messages. In the meanwhile, they see nothing wrong in holding the phone while driving as they hold it near the windshield “for better visibility.” Another popular excuse is that drivers who text at the wheel do it only at stop sign or red light. Besides, what encourages people to engage in texting in the car is the example of other drivers. Despite all these excuses, one can easily notice that texting while driving has many negative consequences, and does not have a single positive one. Excuses are just excuses, and they do not justify the injuries and deaths of innocent people who suffer because of the car accidents. If a given issue has such a negative impact, people should avoid it and try to solve it.
Taking into account the problem’s scale, the government of the U. S. has already taken some measures to prevent the negative consequences of texting while driving. The laws prohibiting text messages and using cell phones were adopted in many states. By now, “10 states prohibit all drivers from using handled cell phones, 32 states prohibit novice drivers from cell phone use, and 39 states prohibit from text messaging” (Marino, 2012).
Still, these measures seem to be insufficient. One can add to them a policy or strategy intended to raise the social awareness of the negative consequences of texting while driving. Some public service announcements recommend changing the public attitude towards the given problem. Until people realize the risks associated with texting while driving, they would continue doing it.
To conclude, texting while driving has many negative consequences. It affects almost all aspects of safe driving performance. First, it constitutes a visual distraction for the driver. Reading and typing the messages forces the driver not to look at the road and decreases his attentiveness. Second, texting while driving also leads to physical driver distraction. It affects driver’s lateral vehicle control as busy hands lead to slower responses to hazards. Third, those who text while driving, spend nearly 10% of their time outside their lane. By doing so, the drivers put the pedestrians and other drivers under the risk. Thus, texting while driving is harmful for health and safety of the entire population. It is on the behalf of the society to follow the laws and raise the awareness of the outcomes of texting while driving.