Did you know that texting while operating a motor vehicle is banned in 46 states in the US? If you are surprised by this fact, please keep reading.
Mobile texting was invented to facilitate communication. When one cannot talk in a noisy area, one can send a quick text and the problem is solved. However, texting while driving is dangerous.
A lot of the texts here on AdvantageTec Blog have been about the usage of mobile texting as a means of communication improvement, mainly between dealerships and their customers. Given that car accidents are prone to happen more “at certain times of the year, such as summer and holidays” (AARC reports in 2015), we have started seeing things from a different perspective and decided to speak up and try to save some lives.
Driving with mentally challenging tasks
Driving without paying attention to the road is called distracted driving. Surveys report shocking results in connection to distracted driving. The FCC enlists the dangers of texting while driving:
- According to NHTSA, “in 2012 driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes – with 3,328 people killed – and crashes resulting in an injury – with 421,000 people wounded.”
- A Pew survey data indicate that “[f]orty percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.”
- VTTI “found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.”
- And finally, in 2014, “there were 520 non-occupants killed in distraction-affected crashes”.
A recent study, conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the University of Houston in May 2016, found that “drivers have a sixth sense that keeps them safe and on track even if they’re emotional or absent-minded while driving”. This sixth sense is, however, turned off while driving and texting because mobile devices demand our fullest attention, thus preventing the brain from working properly and paying attention to what happens around it, ultimately bringing the driver and passengers into danger.
“What makes texting so dangerous is that it wreaks havoc into this sixth sense. Self-driving cars may bypass this and other problems, but the moral of the story is that humans have their own auto systems that work wonders, until they break,” says Ioannis Pavlidis, director of the Computational Physiology Laboratory at the University of Houston.
Don’t text and drive campaigns
The aforementioned shocking FCC report was a wake-up call for many, so campaigns were organized to prevent people from distracted driving. If you do not remember the brutal 2014 PSA video*, here it is:
In April this year, which is branded as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, NHTSA social media campaign used public shaming on its official Twitter account in order to raise awareness by calling up people for using or joking about using their phones while driving. They used #justdrive hashtag.
“We’re doing everything short of sliding into the public’s Direct Messages to get [the] point across,” says Bryan Thomas, a NHTSA representative who’s clearly been studying his Generation Z lingo. (Source: Wired)
Besides this, there are other interesting forms of raising awareness.
An Arizona law firm thought of offering a scholarship to students who do not text while driving. In order to use the $1000 scholarship, students or future students with a student ID take the pledge for themselves or instead of someone else – which means that more lives can be saved. Currently, there are more than 66,000 pledges taken on a national level and more than 68,000 in Arizona!
Other countries have realized as well how dangerous simultaneous texting and driving are. Here is an interesting example of how New Zealanders tried to get their teenagers respond – with a funny video as a part of New Zealand Transport Agency’s Drive Phone Free campaign which started in March 2016.
So, instead of reaching for your phone – reach for your passenger’s hand and remind yourself of that person’s life.
How to change behavior?
You can start today by following some of these tips:
- Obey state laws concerning cellphone
- Turn off Wi-Fi and cellular data while driving.
- Be the example.
- Stay informed (e.g. about SR22 insurance form).
It takes mental strength to break the habit, but people have proved to find loopholes and get people into thinking about other people’s lives. If you do not trust yourself anymore, there are apps that you can use to prevent checking your phone whenever it rings, such as:
- AT&T DriveMode
Some of them have the option of sending auto respond messages which inform your callers that you are driving and cannot reply, or read the messages or emails aloud, without you having to take the phone and do it yourself. Others completely block you from hearing the messages by turning the drive mode on.
All in all, even though texting is a powerful tool which connects people and makes business run faster and smoother, one must not allow to overuse it and bring people into direct danger.
Remember: don’t text and drive.