Today’s roads are filled with more perils than ever before – cars are built faster and house more powerful engines, and aftermarket modifications make them faster still. Couple that with the fact that there are more vehicles on our roads today than there has ever been and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Speed, power, and sheer numbers however are not the only dangers we face when we get behind the wheel, nor are they even the most perilous – at least, not on their own.
With the veritable explosiveness of smartphone ownership we’ve seen in North America over the last decade, there has been an equally shocking growth in the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents related to distracted driving that occur each year. Distracted driving due to cellphone use has become such a big problem that it has even surpassed driving under the influence of alcohol as the leading killer on our roadways.
The exponential increase in these types of accidents has left lawmakers struggling to find ways to curb this very dangerous behavior and reduce the occurrence of personal injury.
Gaining Perspective: Statistics On A Widening Epidemic
According to the Department of Transportation, distracted driving due to cellphone use causes:
- 1,600,000 accidents per year
- 500,000 injuries a year
- 6,000 preventable deaths each year
In spite of these absolutely staggering numbers, some argue still that those who drive while intoxicated are still the bigger danger. And while no one would contest that drunk drivers pose considerable risk to drivers and pedestrians, the sheer number of accidents caused by distracted driving eclipse those caused by intoxicated drivers.
Texting While Driving Diminishes Your Ability To Stop
This point may seem obvious, since using a handheld device causes a driver’s attention to be diverted away from the road. But do you have any idea just how great the impact really is?
- Reading a text, even for five seconds, means you’re driving blind – and at 55 mph, that’s equivalent to traveling the length of a football field while not paying attention.
- A study conducted in 2010 by Car and Driver magazine found distracted driving added nine times the distance required to brake than it did for performing the same maneuver while intoxicated.
Stiffer Fines On The Way
While most States have a complete and outright ban on texting and driving, the number of accidents has left some lawmakers and concerned citizens alike shaking their heads in futility. Clearly, additional penalties must be imposed in order to dissuade drivers from this behavior, right?
The penalty for drivers caught texting in Ontario was recently increased from a $60 to $500 fine to a $300 to $1,000 fine (and three demerit points).
Many States across the union are looking for ways to beef up the laws that are already on the books – and while increasing fines, enforcing demerit point deductions, and the possibility of jail time seems adequate to some, others believe the way to combat this issue is through education.
In a recent survey, 40% of American teens surveyed admitted to using their handheld device while operating a vehicle. Additionally, 77% of those surveyed said they are able to confidently navigate their vehicles while interacting with their phones, many going so far to say that it is “easy”. Call it the hubris of youth.
By educating today’s youth on the perils of distracted driving, we can instill in them the correct behavior before they are even of age to get behind the wheel. Lessons like the following may have more of an impact:
- Reading or sending a text while driving increases your chances of getting into an accident by 23%.
- Texting and driving accounts for nearly a quarter of ALL collisions that occur on the road each and every year.
- Reading a text message requires more than two times the amount of time that you are able to safely take your eyes off the road.
Whatever the strategy that gets implemented, however the legislation gets changed, no matter how stiff the fines become, one thing is certain – action is required. There is no doubt we are engaged in an uphill battle, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Perhaps listen to this young woman’s story before you think it’s OK to text and drive!
The scene of a traffic accident – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Texting While Driving – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Steffen is a bilingual (German/English) content writer at 9thCO who likes to speak his mind. He enjoys sharing his thoughts—and there are many—online through blogging and social media. To inspire readers to share their own opinions is one of his ambitions.
Recent Guest Author Articles:
- What the Heck Are Nightshades, and How Are They Affecting My Health & Weight Loss?
- Anti-Aging Breakfast Superheroes
- Actionable Tips to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly and Sustainable
- How to Support Your Local Healthcare Workers During COVID
- Sexual Empowerment or Self-Abandonment? A Modern Feminist’s Dilemma