Statistically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2009 that 20% of automobile accidents and crashes in the U.S. were directly caused by using a handheld electronic device while driving. This is particularly true with teenage drivers who make up the highest proportion of distracted drivers and are more involved in fatal accidents. The most common form of distraction is texting while driving which is the “preferred mode of communication for young mobile phone users” (Saqer, de Visser, Strohl, & Parasuraman 5877). Over the last ten years or so, a number of studies have demonstrated that texting while driving is quite common. For example, in 2002, researchers found that more than 50% of teenage drivers admitted to sending or reading a text message while behind the wheel. Another study done in 2010 showed that “1 in 4 American adults have either sent or read a text while driving” and that young adults under the age of 25 are just as guilty of texting while driving an automobile (Cook & Jones 545). In a 2011 study, Jerry L. Cook and Randall M. Jones discovered that females (48.8%) were more likely to be involved in a serious car accident than males (41.7%) and that the “percentages of crashes appeared to increase with each increment” in texting activity (548).
As noted by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), “intextication” as opposed to “intoxication” or driving while drunk occurs when a driver becomes disengaged with his/her surroundings because they are “too mentally occupied with a cell phone” via texting while driving. This preoccupation is not only dangerous but can lead to serious car accidents, personal injury to the driver and passengers, and even death. One valid reason for this is that most drivers who text while driving “see as little as 50% of what appears in front of them if they are engaged in a conversation” through texting (“New Approaches to Ending Texting While Driving” 6).
One pivotal technological way to help end texting while driving is through the installation of a no-texting app onto cell phones which “automatically sends calls to voice mail and silences text when inside a moving vehicle.” Another approach would allow the parents of teenaged drivers to “remotely cut teen cell phone services while they are driving” (“New Approaches to Ending Texting While Driving” 6). Today, these types of approaches are available, but more research needs to be done. However, many state and local governments are against mandating the use of new applications to stop texting while driving, due to believing that new laws aimed at curbing texting while driving violates the personal freedom of the driver (“New Approaches to Ending Texting While Driving” 6). Therefore, the only sensible way to help end the practice of texting while driving is to educate all drivers by helping them to fully understand the possible consequences of texting behind the wheel.
Cook, Jerry L., and Randall M. Jones. “Texting and Accessing the Web While Driving: Traffic Citations and Crashes Among Young Adult Drivers.” Traffic Injury Prevention 12 (2011): 545-549. Print.
“New Approaches to Ending Texting While Driving.” Professional Safety (2013): 6. Print.
Saqer, Haneen, Ewart de Visser, Jonathan Strohl, and Raja Parasuraman. “Distractions N’ Driving: Video Game Simulation Educates Young Drivers on the Dangers of Texting While Driving.” Work 41 (2012): 5877-5879. Print.