Linda Doyle, a loving mother and an avid helper for the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, became a statistic in the year 2009. Her life abruptly ended in a car accident by a distracted driver. Linda Doyle’s life was cut short, simply because a driver could not put his cell phone down while driving (Hanes 1). Larry Copeland, a writer for USA Today, outlines the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s scary statistic that “6,000 highway deaths each year involve distracted drivers” (1). While this number tends to sound extreme, knowing 6,000 lives could have been saved if only drivers would have taken seriously the dangers of driving while distracted.
While a person may believe they can multitask while driving and not be in any danger, they are clearly mistaken. Phil LeBeau, a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based at the network's Chicago bureau, discusses the terrible habit American drivers have developed in his story “Texting and Driving Worse than Drinking and Driving.” With the help of Car and Driver Magazine, LeBeau was able to see firsthand at how dangerous driving while distracted is. LeBeau took a driving test created to see how emailing or texting slows down a person’s reaction time. LeBeau states, “On average, it took me four times longer to hit the brake [while being distracted and driving]” (1). Therefore, LeBeau’s results matched up with the final results for Car and Driver Magazine; it took an unimpaired driver .54 seconds to break, yet for a person sending a text while driving, it took 70 more feet to break. Furthering Car and Driver Magazine’s study, it shows that it only took a legally drunk person four more feet to stop (LeBeau 1). With this said, a person could be at legal limit of .08, yet still be safer on the road than an individual who is texting and driving.
Along with this study, Stephanie Hanes, a correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, reveals nearly the same information as LeBeau in her article “Texting While Driving: The New Drunk Driving.” In this article Hanes disposes Professor Strayer’s test prepared at the University of Utah’s Applied Cognition Laboratory. Strayer’s results showed that most people who claim they can, “‘text, tweet, and talk safely at the wheel’” did not multitask the way they claimed they could (qtd. in Hanes 3). Subsequently Professor Strayer states, “‘For 98 percent of the population, regardless of age, the likelihood of a crash while on a cellphone increases fourfold; the reaction to simulated traffic lights, pedestrians, and vehicles is comparable to that of someone legally intoxicated’” (qtd. in Hanes 3). Strayer also points out, “‘texting while driving is a “perfect storm” of distraction, with cognitive, manual, and visual elements’” (qtd. in Hanes 5). When thinking about how much brain activity involves sending one text message, do not forget to add in how much thinking it takes to drive also. Although a brain is meant to cognitively multitask, texting and driving should not be considered at the same time. On behalf of the safety of the individuals on the roads, people need to take the dangers of texting while driving seriously, and avoid using the two together at all times. Although many people know the dangerous risks of texting while driving, many still take part in these actions. Larry Copeland outlines an online survey conducted for teens to see who was aware of the issues of texting and driving, yet who still engaged in these behaviors. It was found that 84% out of the 1,999 teens surveyed, ages 16-19, were aware of the higher risk of crashes, yet 86% still engaged in these dangerous behaviors (Copland 1). With attention to this statistic, I would be part of the 86% of teenagers driving while distracted by my cell phone. With living out of town, and having to take the same route at least twice a day, anything that can distract me from the tiresome drive, I have dangerously attempted; this includes texting while driving. Although I know this is a highly risky move, and I know the negative consequences it involves, I have not stopped.
What I do believe would influence others to stop the highly risky habit of texting while driving, is a frightening personal experience involving this issue. Recently, a former student out of a nearby school was killed in a car crash due because she was distracted with her cell phone while driving. This put individuals around this area alert of this dangerous habit, and I believe for some teenagers it put a stop to their dangerous habit permanetly. Yet just like me, some people have picked the habit back up. Coupled with this is Cheyenne Teontegode’s story. She was in a frightening accident because of texting and driving. Cheyenne states, “‘Well, yeah. Of course you hear it. You hear it all the time from adults . . . But people don’t think about it until it happens to them, unless they get the message from another teen. If is happens to another teen, then I think they will listen” (qtd. in Copeland 2). Consequently, sometimes it takes a terrifying experience to stop a dangerous habit.
With this said, texting while driving has become a highly discussed legislative issue. Currently 30 states and the District of Columbia have passed no texting and driving laws (Copeland 1). I believe this is where putting an end to this deadly habit can be stopped, through laws. By passing such laws, this would make texting while driving socially unacceptable. I know firsthand the minute I would get a ticket for engaging in something illegal, such as receiving a speeding ticket, I would change my behavior quickly. Spotting drivers who are texting should not be difficult. Gregory Massak, the police chief of Shirley, Massachusetts believes in this concept too. Massak states, “‘Like drunken drivers [texting drivers are the ones] going too slow or too fast, or weaving . . . They’re concentrating more on [the phone] than on driving’” (qtd. in Hanes 5). Making texting while driving illegal and enforcing this law, would make texting while driving difficult to attempt.
Distractions will never go away while driving, but eliminating cell phone use while driving can be easily done. Many individuals know the dangers texting while driving has caused, yet still refuse to put the cell phone down. I personally am guilty of this, and I would tend to agree that once put in a terrifying situation, I would be able to finally break my habit. With law makers creating laws banning cell phone use while driving, I also believe this would help put a stop to people’s dangerous habits. Putting oneself and the other individuals’ safety at risk can be stopped if people would eliminate using cell phones while driving.