In today’s fast paced world, everyone is connected by cell phones and other mobile communication devices. Who hasn’t observed someone rapidly thumb-typing a text message from a cell phone, or done it themselves?
Concerns and issues arise, though, when people are texting when they really should have their attention elsewhere. Most people don’t worry when they see someone sitting on a park bench or walking down the street while sending text messages.
The worst that could happen is they might bump into you because they are not paying attention. It takes a good amount of attention to type a message and make sure it is properly written, even when using text speak. So what happens when that same person is texting while driving?
Using A Cell Phone While Driving Is Distracting
Texting while driving joins a long list of distracting tasks people try to do while behind the wheel. When cell phones first came out, it was convenient to call people while driving. You could easily update loved ones on when you might be home or talk business on long commutes. However, they quickly became a problem for motorists when other drivers were using them. In most cases, they require one hand to hold and it divides the concentration from driving to the phone conversation.
This naturally lowers reaction time and has been a factor in many accidents. In many areas, laws were made so that fines can be issued for people caught talking on their cell phone without the use of a headset. Headsets allow both hands to be kept on the wheel. However, we are back to square one with the availability of text messaging. Many people take the time to send text messages while behind the wheel of their car posing a much greater risk to themselves and other drivers.
One study finds a person is 6 times more likely to be in an accident when driving and texting.
Preventable Accidents Are Not Accidents
Text messaging requires at least one hand to hold and operate the cell phone. This requires the driver to take one hand off the wheel, in the same manner as holding the phone to talk, that caused problems before. But texting is going to be more of a distraction because, unlike talking on the cell phone, people need to see what they’re typing. The cell phone has them looking away from where their attention should be focused, the road. One could easily miss something critical with their attention divided.
It could be something as normal as a car in front making a sudden turn, a pedestrian crossing the street or a sudden slow down in rush hour traffic. Something a person looking down at their cell phone while texting could miss. “It all happened so fast” is usually not an exaggeration since a split second could mean the difference in avoiding it completely. An accident might only be a minor fender-bender or fatal to everyone involved.
If police find a cell phone at in accident scene, they will most likely check to see if it was in use around the time of the accident as a possible cause. People did not need to text message while driving in the past when it did not exist. Just because it exists now doesn’t make it a necessity while driving. It can be argued that an accident as a result of text messaging is no accident at all.
The Government Is Stepping In
Many states are trying to ban the use of cell phones while driving. England takes cell phone use while driving very seriously. According to Engadget, in 2005 you could be given a Â£1000 fine ($1800) for driving and texting while in England and in recent times, you can be put in jail for 2 years. Most Americans agree that they should be banned while others think that it would be too picky, insignificant and probably would not be enforced, so why bother.
There are still many people who drive and talk on their cell phones, without headsets, in areas prohibiting cell phone use. Its unlikely banning drivers from texting will stop the masses from sending text messages. Many people know its wrong but see it as a chance to catch up on unresolved issues they can’t while at work or other busy times. Others will continue to text message believing they can handle doing both. Dr Phil discusses this with one teen texter who has several close calls and fines as a result of texting while driving.
For those who think they can handle both, let me present you with this. How would you feel if a loved one died in a car accident at the fault of someone who was text messaging while driving? Then, how would you feel if there was no law in place and the person was let off easier despite the text messaging? Someone you cared about died because someone had to find out supper plans. Or, what if you slipped up just once trying to text message and are at fault in a fatal crash? Even if you are let off with a light sentence because there was no law in place, it will be something you have to live with the rest of your life.
It Can Wait
For the most part, there are very few instances that a driver would have to respond immediately to a text message that has been received. For the ones that need to be addressed immediately, there is no reason why the car can’t be pulled over to the side of the road. The message can be checked safely and, if necessary, replied to. For those speedy people who can send a message quickly, the stop should not be too inconvenient, if the message is that important.
It would also take much less time than being involved in an accident. If a conversation is necessary, give the person a call back and resolve the issue before continuing. A phone conversation is much faster than typing anyway. If you know text messages will not be important enough to pay attention to but you can’t resist seeing what you got, turn off your phone.
That way you won’t be tempted when your phone lets you know you have a text message. Think you are saving time? Prepaid Reviews cites a cell phone study about talking and driving. It may add to travel time for doing too many things at once. If talking and driving adds time, text messaging would add even more. Wouldn’t you rather be home sooner?
There is a time and place for everything, but texting behind the wheel is not one of them. Stay safe on the roads. There are plenty of other times to text all you want.