It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t own one or several. Nowadays it seems like we can’t take our eyes off them. We are constantly getting notifications, texts, playing games, watching YouTube videos, or checking social media to see if someone liked the picture we just posted. We’re all guilty of it. These devices can be both a curse and a blessing at the same time. They are distracting, yet they have also proved to be extremely helpful in gaining insightful information.
Although, there comes a point when we have to step away from it all. We can’t be living our lives behind a screen. Some might say that the benefits of having any electronic devices far exceed the perceived risks; however, I believe that to be false when it comes to texting and driving.
There are different types of distractions while on the road, the three major ones being visual, manual, and cognitive. The first one is the most common amongst drivers, people can easily get visually distracted when driving.
This could be because they need to adjust their mirrors, seats, change the radio station, or they’re looking outside because of something that’s happening on the side of the road. Manual distractions are when the driver take their hands off the wheel. Examples of this would be when we’re eating food, taking care of our appearance, or returning calls and texts. Lastly, cognitive distractions are when your mind isn’t focused on driving.
This might be from emotional stress, personal problems, or when we’re talking with someone else in the car. This isn’t as dangerous, because the passengers we’re riding with can also see what’s going on and warn the driver if needed. It has been found that texting while driving has the highest potential for distraction as it involves all three of these. In an article published by The Science Teacher Magazine journalist Michael Bratsis explains that “sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.”
The government has recognized this has become problematic and are doing what they can to fix it. They want to make it better, but they’re having trouble enforcing laws against people that text while on the road. They have no way of knowing if someone was distracted because of their phones or something else entirely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “texting while driving is banned in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Two additional states ban texting while driving only for new drivers.” Depending on which state they’re in, if people are caught texting while on the road they have to pay charges ranging from 20 to 750 dollars and even spend time in jail. Obviously none of us want to go through any of this, though we all need to be more aware of the consequences of our actions.
People of every nation have become obsessed with electronics. Even when driving, we don’t realize how our lives could drastically change in just the few seconds that we take our eyes off the road, or maybe we do but decide nonetheless that replying to a text is more important. It doesn’t take much to cause an accident; the majority of the time we don’t have time to react which results in significant damage in one way or another. According to an article on Professional Safety “more than 1.1 million collisions each year directly result from distracted driving”. Nevertheless, people continue to text and drive every day, not considering how they could be putting other people’s lives, as well as their own, on the line. I think we should all strongly consider what we are doing when we open our car doors to travel anywhere, near or far. If it’s such a pressing matter to get back to whoever it is, then why can’t we just pull over somewhere safe and do so? If we have someone in the car with us, then that should make it even easier. Hand the phone over and ask if they can take care of it for you.
Texting and driving has become a huge problem as some people who do this know that they are breaking the law but continue to do it anyways. Distracted driving has always been a concern, especially with young drivers, but it has never received the attention it needs until now. What can we do to prevent this from happening? Should the government be making laws to avoid this kind of behavior? Many cell phones have applications in place that automatically alert whoever sent the text that the receiver is currently on the road driving and will get back to them when it is safe to do so. A few of these apps are OneTap and AT&T DriveMode. There is even a program that parents can use to lock their kids’ phone when the car is moving to keep them from texting while driving, and they’re only able to use it again once the car has reached a stopping point. These apps could be the answer to our problems when we’re on the road driving.
This isn’t the only way this can be solved, there are other approaches we can use. Technology has advanced so much that in the future cars will be capable of driving themselves. Driverless cars have been tested extensively with very little interference. According to an article that was published by EHS Today “Robotic drivers never get distracted – they can perceive objects on all sides as well as above and below, and their reaction times are faster than those of human drivers” (McCarthy). They have proven to function just as well in heavy traffic by stopping at stop signs and alerting the driver of upcoming turns and crossings. With this invention, we will be able to talk with people who are in the car with us, or even go on our phones and not have to worry about the road in front of us. Because of this, we will easily be able to get from one place to another more safely. The only downside is that these cars are still years away from being made.
We rely on our phones heavily throughout the day. Is that a good thing though? They do make life easier for us in a way. We use our phones for everything, whether it’s for entertainment, to keep in touch with friends and family, getting from one place to another, to keep up-to-date with everything that’s going on, to shop, listen to music, or simply just to browse the internet. If we’re not on our phones, we’re on our tablets or laptops doing the same things. Phones, as well as other electronics, are distracting us from the beauty of the world around us, and interacting with each other in a civilized manner. People who support modern technology think of this as a positive development with the ever growing cell phone industry. They believe that phones are among some of the most significant creations ever.
We could be doing much more profitable things with our time, rather than spending multiple hours a day on these devices. Instead, we could read books, spend time outside, have face to face conversations with people instead of constantly texting back and forth, work out, play an instrument, or put together a puzzle; the list goes on. Yet we choose to stay constantly connected with technology, when we should be doing the exact opposite. A study conducted by ReportLinker has shown that “Nearly half of Americans (46%) say they check their smartphones as soon as they wake up.” If somehow we manage not to look at our phones first thing in the morning, we can’t get through breakfast without checking them. I think it’s extremely important to reduce the amount of time we spend on electronics and take breaks regularly to do something else entirely to give our eyes a rest. Not surprisingly, staring at these tiny screens all day long isn’t good for us. Too much exposure can lead to eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, bad posture, and dry eyes. By spending too much time behind our screens we also have the risk of becoming overweight.
There are many benefits that come with not spending as much time on our phones. If we avoid using our phones before bed, we are usually more relaxed and get better sleep. It also helps to reduce anxiety and stress which ultimately leads to a happier life. Taking breaks regularly allows us to use our time more wisely, and get things done. Phones not only distract us behind the wheel, they have also made walking on the street hazardous. People who are constantly looking at their phones while walking on the sidewalk could easily step into oncoming traffic without even realizing what they’re doing before it’s too late to react. In fact, studies have shown that there has been an increase in pedestrian deaths that were partly due to distractions caused by phones.
In conclusion, while phones and other electronic devices have their advantages they also have their shortcomings. They interfere with our ability to drive safely, communicate with people face to face, and fully enjoy the world around us. If you’re someone who texts while on the road, it’s not worth it. By doing this, we are not only endangering our own lives but also the lives of others. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has been estimated that “approximately 9 people are killed each day in the United States and more than 1,000 (are) injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” We need to gain more self-control when it comes to texting while driving. We need to be more cautious while we’re on the road, we shouldn’t be trying to do multiple things at once. It’s important for us all to realize that when we pick up our phones while driving we’re putting other people’s lives, along with our own, in our hands.