Multitasking has developed into an essential part of people’s lives and it is expected of human beings to be able to multitask at a high level (Madden 15). This expectation has begun to cause many problems in the modern world with distractions such as texting, Facebook chat, and, Twitter, games, and social media in general. From the moment people wake up, they begin checking their phone, to see if anything interesting is going on, check the weather, search through social media, all while at the same time attempting to prepare for their busy day. Most people then get into their car and begin heading to work, or wherever else their destination may be, and decide this would be another good time to learn what is going on and maybe even eat breakfast, or shave. Many people do not realize is how dangerous this actually is towards people all around them, and to themselves. Traffic accidents are a very serious issue and the effects of a car accident can be devastating. Countless injuries, and many deaths are caused on a daily basis in car accidents all around the nation due to many factors, one of them being distracted driving. Many of these issues can and should be prevented to ensure a safer world. More restrictions, using not only laws but also technology, should be implemented because of all the dangers involved in distracted driving. There is a tremendous amount of drivers in the U.S. with 685 cars for every thousand people of driving age (87 percent) (Internet n.pag.). The amount of cars in the United States however even more astonishing, with 779 cars for every 1000 people (78 percent) (Stefan Distracted n.pag.). This gives the United States not only the highest percentage of licensed drivers, but also the highest rate of car ownership. Additionally, almost every person in the U.S. has a mobile phone, with 936 phones for every 1000 citizens (93.6 percent) (Wireless n.pag.). With drivers between they age of 19 and 39 years old, over 40 percent of them say they text while they are driving, and with the number of texts increasing dramatically from just seven billion in 2005 to a huge, 173 billion in 2010, the concern continues to rise (O'Donnell n.pag.), as the amount of texts keeps on going up every single year. Additionally, more than half of those questioned in a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety say they talk on their cellphones while driving (Halsey n.pag.). While cell phone usage is considered by many to be the most significant driving distraction, other problems, such as loud passengers, radios, navigation systems, food, makeup, and even shaving on the way to work are distractions to many drivers. Distracted driving has become a highly discussed topic, and many people believe that there should not be any restrictions placed against cellphone usage while driving. A large reason for this is because it would be incredibly difficult to enforce a complete ban against distracted driving and just become a nightmare to regulate (Cell 20). When talking on the phone, it is the conversation, not the device that is leading to the distractions. A Virginia Tech study suggests that cellphone conversations are only marginally riskier than non-distracted driving- and far less hazardous than tasks that require taking your eyes off the road (Cell 19). Although studies by IIHS and others show using a cellphone while driving quadruples the risk of a crash, IIHS research shows there was no concurrent increase in crashes as the number of cellphones increased throughout the 2000s. In an analysis of 7,000 crashes released in September, NHTSA concluded 30% involved some type of distraction but found that of fourteen sources of distraction in a car, texting while driving was the only one that was not a factor. In reports from real traffic accidents, dialing or hanging up a phone was linked to 3.4% of crashes, looking at other objects in the car was associated with 3.2% and talking with a passenger was a factor in nearly 16% of crashes, the largest percentage (O'Donnell n.pag.), and with car manufactures constantly adding new gadgets to cars it would be practically impossible for laws to keep up with new development, and fight off the entire automotive industry. Before regulations are enacted towards distracted driving it is important to get the all of the facts and balance them with any of the trade-offs (Cell 20). Strong opposition towards additional regulations means that it will be difficult to pass regulations through very particular government laws, however, it is necessary for people to be more restrained from distractions on the road that can lead to deadly accidents that are easily avoidable. Currently many regulations against distracted driving already exist and in New York State, using a handheld device will lead to a traffic ticket, a fine, and points on your driving record. It also is likely to bring up your insurance costs and with everything added up it can be an unexpected and costly problem. Unfortunately this is not nearly enough to solve the problem which has now gotten absolutely out of control. Out of the 34,080 fatal accidents in 2012, 3,328 were related to distract driving (Insurance n. pag.). Now with 82 percent of teen’s ages 16-17 having a cell phone and 76 percent of them being texters, texting while driving is becoming very frequent. Additionally, 48 percent of all teenagers’ ages 12-17 say they have been in a car while the driver was texting, and 40 percent say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger (Madden 13). To a driver it seems as if they have complete control of the car, but even if they do have control of their own vehicle while doing something else, the reduced reaction time people encounter means that if someone else were to make an unexpected move, to the passengers who understand the seriousness of the situation believe more should be hone later in the day. All of this is consistently happening to us because multitasking has become a part of people’s lives and it has become expected of people to be able to multitask (Madden 15). “Americans have become accustomed, and maybe even addicted, to the ease of being able to phone home to say where they are or ask what to pick up at the supermarket” (Cell 20). Awareness has already been built up about the dangers of distracted texting and driving while operating an automobile and because of this, when teens first begin driving they tend to be very safe. According to a study by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which has conducted some of the nation's most significant research on distracted driving, and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (Copeland n.pag.), in the first six months behind the wheel, novice teen drivers multitasked less frequently than experienced drivers, mainly due to the fact that they are so worried trying to stay safe due to insecurity involving driving. Beginner drivers did however match experienced drivers between months seven and fifteen, and were engaging in the distracting behaviors more frequently than experienced drivers during months sixteen-eighteen, because of their loss of insecurity and fear. During the last three months of the study, the young driver’s dangerous distractions doubled, creating additional driving distractions towards society. Furthermore, it was concluded that engaging in tasks associated with the use of hand-held cellphones and other portable devices increase the risk of collisions by three times; sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded at 55 mph (Copeland n.pag.), or approximately 25 car lengths, plenty of distance to cause a very accident, maybe even head on, or even flip off the road and plummet into a death trap. Many new laws are being developed constantly to keep up with a changing environment end distracted driving, such as New York States decision to increase the amount of points on your driving record for using a handheld device from three to five just last year. Also many states are now joining in on the movement to end distracted driving because they are realizing how destructive it can be. While this may help with the attempt to end distracted driving, other methods must also be implemented using technology. Software engineer, and cofounder of Kayak.com and several other major websites, Paul English has designed an app that helps people from attempting to get distracted by their phone. The app works by awarding points for safe driving, while taking away points when the driver decides to text or use their phone for any reason. This app joins a developing number of apps that focus on converting the device that contributes to the distracted driving into a tool that helps solve the problem. Some apps make smartphones a driving coach, while others report bad driving to insurance companies or parents, while some even respond to texts, e-mails, or calls, automatically using an away message stating that the person is currently busy driving (Farrell n.pag). Other technologies are also being created that actually work with the car by taking control of automatic driving assist systems. Volvo is developing a new system that uses infrared lights that are invisible the human eye to detect if the driver is paying attention to the road or not. If it detects the driver is not paying attention, or falling asleep, it will help take control of the car using new lane assist and automatic braking systems while trying to get the driver to pay attention again (Volvo n.pag.). This will hopefully be fully developed and put into production as soon as possible so that other car companies can join in on Volvos movement, and ultimately create a safer driving environment for all. Additionally, campaigns such as At&t’s “It Can Wait” are allowing for people to be more aware of distracted driving and help prevent it from happening in the first place by creating a mental mindset for people that texting while driving is not worth the risk. Distracted driving is very dangerous to all of our community, and “if you text while driving… your luck will run out eventually” (Kiesbye Cell 16). Because many people continue to ignore the dangers of distracted driving, more awareness, regulations using laws, and technology should be implemented in order to prevent this dangerous habit of looking away from the road and at something that is not nearly as important from ever happening. While it is impossible to expect for all distractions to be completely eliminated, such as other passengers or using a navigation system, many of them can be toned down to allow for a safer world, and using new systems such as what Volvo has created, can make the risks involved with distracted driving far less significant.
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