Dangers of Cell Phones While Driving
In today’s society most of us have become very attached to our cell phones. They have become a very large part of our lives because they simplify communication, and they help us with everyday tasks. However, when used while driving in a car, cell phones can become very dangerous or even deadly by distracting drivers from the road. Using a cell phone while driving can include talking, texting, or navigating through a smartphone app. In fact, using your cellphone is so dangerous that last year there were 3,328 deaths caused by cell phone related automobile accidents (“Facts and Statistics on Distracted Driving”). Cell phone use should be restricted while driving by raising awareness of the dangers, creating laws that restrict cell phone use, implementing technology in cars to remind or restrict drivers of cell phone usage while driving, and by motivating new drivers to sign a pledge to put the phone down while driving.
I turned 16 about 2 years ago and I was very excited to attend driving school and get my license. One of the most important lessons I learned while attending drivers education was the importance of paying attention while driving on the road. The theme of the lesson was to put down your cell phone and keep your eyes on the road. A video was shown to the class that displayed horrific crashes due to cell phone usage while driving. I was petrified by what I saw. The video alone was convincing enough for me to put my phone down and keep my eyes on the road. In reality, however, not everyone that receives their license will see the video I saw in drivers education. Many drivers (especially teens) get their license and get a feeling that they are invincible, and they think that they could never get into a car accident. However, no matter how invincible a driver may think they are, every driver on the road can get into an accident. If you are over 18 you don’t even have to take drivers education classes. I believe the main reason that so many people use their cell phone and drive is because they are not educated of the risks and dangers that come with using a cell phone while driving.
I’ve seen a handful of commercials on T.V. that have advised drivers not to use their cell phones and drive, but in order for the number of cell phone related accidents to decrease there must be a widespread awareness of the problem. “At the core, wireless devices are public safety tools since they allow our family and friends to contact first responders or others who can aid them when needed. Yet there are appropriate and inappropriate times to use them, and when driving, safety should always be the top priority” (“Safe Driving”). Organizations like CTIA and It Can Wait by AT&T are taking action by providing Public service announcements through the radio and television, but there are still many areas in society that won’t be affected by a simple service announcement. Wireless carriers need to promote safe driving by giving cell phone buyers the actual facts of the dangers of driving while using a cell phone. There are several studies conducted on the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, and wireless companies should use these studies to advertise safe driving habits.
Throughout the United States, laws are being created to restrict drivers from using their cell phones while driving. Many states have completely banned cell phone usage while driving. However, some states such as South Carolina and South Dakota have not placed a ban on any kind of cell phone usage. There are different levels of cell phone restrictions that different states have put into effect. As mentioned earlier, many states have enacted a complete ban on cell phone usage while driving. Unfortunately, other states have only placed a ban on texting while driving (Pickrell et al). Placing a ban on texting and driving is a good start to enacting cell phone restriction laws, but I believe that all states need a complete cell phone usage ban to better protect drivers on the road. Penalties that go along with cell phone restriction laws should be steep to prevent repeat offenses. The last thing a new teen driver needs to be distracted by is a cell phone. In fact, a study by the Triple A Foundation for Traffic Safety was conducted with 52 over a total period of 288 months. Clips of teenage driving habits were recorded, compiled, and studied by professional traffic safety analysts. The results came to one conclusion. Teens cannot safely drive and use their cell phone. Out of 24,045 clips, 6.7 percent of all clips involved teens using their cell phones while driving. In addition, 6 of the 52 drivers were recorded using their cell phone in 15 percent of their clips. Females were twice as likely as males to use an electronic device while driving. When sending a text, teens were distracted from the road for an average total of ten seconds per text. For an adult, the time increased on an average of one second (Goodwin et al). Events on the road can change in as little as a quarter second. Statics observed in the study conducted by Triple A should be enough evidence for all states to ban all cell phone usage while driving. First offenses should automatically result in a penalty, and the penalties should be even more severe for novice drivers. Giving a warning for cell phone use gives people a second chance to let their driving behavior lead to distractions. Penalties usually stay with people and remind them not to partake in dangerous driving activities such as using a cell phone while driving.
Sometimes, laws and statistics just aren’t convincing enough for people to stop using their addictive devices while driving. A solution for cell phone usage while on the road is cell phone restriction devices implemented into vehicles and phones. The safety technology that is implemented into cars and phones have a sole purpose to remind people that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. There are various technologies available to restrict or remind drivers of their cell phone behavior while driving. A company located in Utah has invented a solution that can be installed in any car to block any incoming and outgoing texts and calls. The system still allows emergency calls such as 911 and roadside assistance, but completely disables the driver from using their phone in any other way ("How Key2SafeDriving Blocks Texting and Driving"). This is the ultimate solution because even if a driver sends a text or attempts to make a call, they will be reminded that they will not succeed until the car is fully stopped. Automobile manufacturers are doing their part to help solve dangerous driving habits by integrating hands free calling right into the car steering wheel. A driver simply pushes a button on the steering wheel and tells the system who they would like to call by using voice commands. When a call comes in the car will notify the driver that he/she has an incoming call, and the driver can either answer or deny the call by pressing a button on the steering wheel. Some advanced systems can even read incoming texts aloud to the driver over the car stereo. These systems allow drivers to still use their cell phones while driving, and the driver will never have to take his/her eyes off of the road. (Gall). Phone manufacturers have also implemented driving technology in their phones. The mobile phone company, Samsung, has developed a feature called drive mode on select smartphones. When the phone is connected to a Bluetooth system in a car, the drive mode on the phone will activate automatically. Drive mode will limit the phone to basic functions activated by voice only ("S Voice Drive by Samsung"). The feature is similar to the hands free feature implemented in cars, but the safety feature is operated off of the phone instead of the car itself. However, there are only a few smartphones with these features, and most cell phone restriction technology in cars is not standard. Therefore, in order for this technology to be used the driver must have the motivation or knowledge of this technology.
If all else fails and laws or warning/restriction technology won’t stop one from using their cell phone in a car, then a driver should simply commit to not using cell phone by signing a pledge. Phone companies such as AT&T have a program mainly targeting teens to sign a pledge to put their phone down and drive. The “It can Wait” program through AT&T encourages teens to take a pledge and spread the word to others about the dangers of texting and driving (“Texting and Driving. It Can Wait"). Even though I am in favor of not using your cell phone at all while driving, I believe that organizations promoting a pledge to stop texting and driving are leading the way to a much safer highway.
There are several ways to promote safe driving habits by not using cell phones while driving. Each person may have their own preference on how to restrict their selves from using their phone while driving. Whether a driver chooses to purchase a device for their vehicle that will limit their phone or to take a pledge to put the phone down and drive, both options are safe ways to promote better driving. Even if a driver doesn’t text and drive, they can still take action by spreading awareness of the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. Lastly, Lawmakers need to do their part by creating better laws which restrict cell phone usage on the road and discipline drivers with penalties for offenses of such action. The road can be a safer place, but everybody needs to take action to see the results of safe cell phone habits.
"Facts and Statistics on Distracted Driving." Distraction.gov. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. Gall, Jared. "Ford Sync Services Review." Ford Sync Services Review. Car and Driver, June 2009. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. Goodwin, Arthur H., Robert D. Foss, and Stephanie S. Harrell. "Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teenage Drivers." AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Mar. 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. "How Key2SafeDriving Blocks Texting and Driving." How Key2SafeDriving Blocks Texting and Driving. Safe Driving Systems, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. Pickrell, Timothy M., and Tony J. Ye. "Driver Electronic Device Use in 2011." National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration, Apr. 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. "S Voice Drive by Samsung." Samsung Mobile Electronics, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. "Safe Driving." Safe Driving. Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, Nov. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2013. "Texting and Driving. It Can Wait." It Can Wait. AT&T, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.