Texting and driving go hand in hand for a lot of Michigan drivers. Too many people on the road are disobeying the law and causing danger to all. It could be the guy behind you, who for some reason cannot drive within the lines. Perhaps it is the lady in front of you, whose head keeps popping up and down as she tries to keep her attention on what she’s typing on her phone, and the road. Whether people think they have the skill to text and drive, or just do not see the existing danger, it does not matter. Over the past few years, automobile crashes due caused by texting while driving is an outbreak that has taken Michigan by storm. The dangers of texting and driving have cost thousands of lives. The number has been on a steady increase with the popularity of texting growing immensely. Something must be done about these rising numbers. The government should be the first to do something. The Michigan State Legislature must take action by adding uniformity to the laws and punishments given to the offenders. It is also very important that the people operating these automobiles are further educated about the dangers of texting and driving. In order to spread the message of the hazards of texting while driving, it should be necessary to take behind the wheel classes or tests, especially for repeat offenders. No matter where it comes from, change must occur.
While motorists may see driving as a regular activity, paying attention is essential for the well being of those driving and persons surrounding them. Drivers habitually do things that mislead their attention from the road. With the development of text messaging and cell phones, distractions have taken a serious twist. There is no doubt that technology has helped improve our everyday life in numerous ways, but the hidden truth is that these advances have made us more careless and less safe. Driving is hard. Texting and driving is harder. “If you are a teen who is texting and driving, you have a greater chance of killing yourself than any other source, including drinking and driving.” (Cell Phone & Texting Accident Statistics). A teenager with a license should not be allowed to listen to music or have friends in the car, let alone drive while looking down at a cell phone. These teenagers not only use cell phones more often then most, but they are also less experienced.
The usage of cell phones while operating an automobile is not only very dangerous to the person doing it, but it is just as bad for everyone else on the road. When drivers are too busy reading or typing a text message, it is impossible to fully pay attention to what is going on around them, “Every year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of using their cell phone while behind the wheel. This statistic is expected to grow as much as 4% every year. But, this is not just a problem among teen drivers. One-fifth of adult drivers in the United States also report sending text messages while driving” (Cell Phone & Texting Accidents). There are always going to be the people who think that they are skilled enough to keep their focus on the road but it is nearly impossible. “Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction simultaneously. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. It's extraordinarily dangerous” (Distracted Driving). Not only does it take your eyes off the road, but also takes your hands off the wheel, forcing you to drive with one hand or, for some dare devils, even a knee. “Distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing”(Distracted Driving). This is why more actions need to be done to help people understand the danger they put themselves at while they are texting and driving.
Michigan Legislature must make the laws on texting and driving more unified. Although there is a law banning the usage of cellular devices while operating an automobile, there is a lot of leeway for those who are caught in the act. “Reading, typing, or sending text message on wireless 2-way communication device prohibited; use of hand-held mobile telephone prohibited; exceptions; "use a hand-held mobile telephone" defined; violation as civil infraction; fine; local ordinances superseded”(Michigan Legislature). The last thing that anyone wants to hear is that a loved one was killed in a car accident, especially when it could have easily been prevented. If police were to take more serious actions than they do now and place more severe punishments on those who are caught texting while driving, citizens will react in a positive manner and slowly start putting their phones down. The punishments in the state of Michigan are as follows; “An individual who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction and shall be ordered to pay a civil fine: First violation, $100.00. Second violation, $200.00” (Michigan Legislature). These fines are not enough. $100.00 dollars is not going to make someone realize the severity of the problem. It should be raised significantly to ensure a lasting impression on the peoples involved. If a person were to get pulled over while drinking and driving, the punishments would be much more drastic than texting and driving, even with recent studies showing texting and driving is more dangerous than drunk driving and has led to many more deaths in the past few years.
Although almost everyone in the state who is able to operate an automobile is aware of the dangers of texting and driving, it is still occurring. On top of adding more unison to the law and making punishments more severe, I believe that people should be further educated on the danger they put themselves in when they decide that the text message cannot wait. One way the education of texting and driving can be furthered is to force caught offenders to attend a class that will educate them on why distracted driving is not safe. Throughout the class they could learn how much it distracts you and how it makes the road dangerous. At the end of the class, offenders must pass a quiz making sure they understand the law to the fullest extent. Using guest speakers who have experienced such trauma would be a great way to inform offenders. If classes were to see how texting and driving could have a serious affected on people’s lives, they would be more inclined to put the phone down. Although people have already passed a test to get their license, texting has become much more advanced and dangerous than ever before and people need to realize that it is not a prohibition of texting and driving because it was never allowed. When people go through drivers training, it is more focused on the technique of driving and not precautionary actions. Adding another distraction awareness portion to drivers training could be extremely beneficial to the lives of thousands of people.
The hazards of distracted driving, mainly texting while driving, take the lives of thousands of people every year. The number of people who have been affected by texting and driving is dramatically increasing. Clearly the laws, punishments, and education up to this point have not done much to change how people view texting and driving. Due to the facts that have been revealed about texting and driving, it is imperative that the government takes strong action to fight this rising epidemic. Although it may be near impossible to keep people off their phones, it is vital that stricter laws are put against it. Law enforcement, including police and the judicial system must put their foot down and stand by it. All ages must be targeted as well. Even though older people may think they are more experienced behind the wheel, accidents can happen and they should not be able to use their phones either. It should also no longer be a question whether it is a safe time to pick up the phone and send a quick text. The punishments must be toughened, forcing people to face harder consequences if caught texting while driving behind the wheel. License suspension would be a strong preventive in order for people to keep both hands on the wheel. On top of the new laws that should be put against texting while driving, drawing attention and focus to people who have suffered tragedies from texting and driving could be a key part to prevent more from happening. Making sure people are fully educated, enforcing stronger laws, and following through with stricter punishments are the first things that need to be done in order to keep people off their phones. Do you want the last thing you see before flying off the road to be “What r u doing? LOL”? There is nothing so important in a text message that cannot wait until later. Do not let any more young individuals lives be taken from texting and driving. Do something about it.
“Cell Phone & Texting Accident Statistics.” Cell Phone Accident Statistics and Texting While Driving Facts. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.