Texting and driving refer to the actual act where the person controlling a motor vehicle is chatting using his or her mobile phone at the same time the car is moving. It can further be defined as the process of reading, sending or composing emails and messages using a cell phone and the same time controlling a motor car. Texting while driving is considered a very critical offense in many nations especially in the transport sector (Allman 23). It is a very dangerous practice that has been outlawed and banned by the relevant authorities worldwide. When a driver writes texts while driving, it distracts it distorts their concentration on steering wheel. Several psychological studies have shown that it is hard for most of the human being to concentrate on two or more things at the same time. In the real sense, it is difficult to read a text message at the same time concentrating on the road to see the vehicles in front, behind or pedestrians crossing the road.
A survey of about 100 pedestrians sampled randomly at a bus station by an insurance company in the United Kingdom revealed that texting while driving is a seriously disrupting and dangerous act. 40% of pedestrians witnessed that they have been driven in vehicles in which drivers are using phones. In another survey of more than 100 drivers in the United States by traffic, the commission revealed that 40% of drivers admitted that they had fallen victim of texting while driving (Allman 25). The rate at which the act of texting while driving is directly propositional to the rate at which smartphones/mobiles are being introduced in the market. Studies show that drivers who have smartphones which can access the internet tend to involve themselves in social sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter while driving. Several research studies mostly associate texting and driving to the major result of fatal accidents due to drivers’ disruption.
Disruption or drivers’ interruption can be clustered into three discrete sets which include cognitive distraction, manual, and visual distraction. A driver will undergo cognitive interruption when his or her focus is withdrawn from driving and start wondering. Manual disruption involves the actual physical act of removing hands off the steering. Lastly, visual disruption involves the act where the drivers take off their eyes from the road (Espejo 45). Texting appears as the most dangerous cause of life threatening accidents because a driver who is texting has a high probability of facing all the three type of distraction. When reading the text message or email on a phone while driving you will undergo visual distraction. When composing the text message or email while driving you will undergo manual distraction. Lastly, when a driver receives a heart touching or shocking text, he or she might undergo cognitive distraction because automatically the driver`s focus will get off the road.
State farm insurance in the United States carried a study in 2011 between young age drivers and elderly drivers. On comparing their findings, statistics showed that most teenagers are the ones who ate prone to texting while driving because most of them own smartphones (Jacques 26). They are the one spending much of their time in social media and internet related search as opposed to elderly drivers who mostly use their phone for calling and receiving phone calls. A large percentage of accidents involving youth drivers are mostly caused by distractions resulting from texting while driving. Teens represent a group that is characterized by the highest prevalence of driving and texting. While significant efforts were made by local, state and the federal government to sensitize teens against texting and driving, they are still the most vulnerable group. They are quite predisposed to the texting syndrome than people who grew up before them. They can text quite faster than the adults, which makes them think that they can multitask between texting and driving. About 50 per cent of youths in a survey conducted by the Pew Research indicated that they find it easy to text and drive, 35 per cent of them admitted having texted behind the wheel in different occasions.
The texting and driving trend is adverse, but parents have a huge task in gaining the moral authority to be role models for teens. Many young people state that they have seen their parents write texts or speak on phone while driving. Teens are likely to view texting and driving as normal regardless of the grave statistics, which indicates that it is as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The National Safety Council indicates that speaking on phone while driving limits the reaction time of the driver during an emergency, making it slower than in case if the person was driving under the influence of alcohol (National Safety Council). The first step towards reducing the prevalence of texting and driving should be parental role modeling so that teens can emulate their parents before they can even take their advice against it.
In the present-day generation, mobile chatting is common though it is classified as a risky practice because it resulted in fatal accidents and interrupted driving (Kiesbye 67). As a consequence of the increasing number of accidents associated with texting while driving, certain legislation body has prohibited the use of cell phones while driving. The authorities have enacted several laws that restrict the use of phones while driving. However, authorities in some nations recommend the use of hands-free gadgets such as earpiece or microphones not knowing that they are also dangerous because they can lead to cognitive distraction. According to statistics, the graph of the number of accidents caused by texting interruption had risen drastically from the year 2000 when the cell phones were first introduced. It is assumed that the increase is because when the cell phones were first introduced, they were only designed for making and receiving phone calls, but today they can be used to read and compose text messages (Moreno 1172). Also, today mobile phones can be used to browse, take photos and watch videos which may automatically disrupt a driver who may get involved.
Nowadays, accidents concerning drivers getting interrupted by texting are now sued for negligence. In the United Kingdom, drivers who are caught operating their cell phones while driving are penalized by adding about 5-6 penalty points to their license plus a fine of 201$ so as to catch up with the drivers abusing the set traffic laws on mobile usage. In Japan, the transport authorities have banned any attempt of mobile usage while driving including the hands-free gadgets. In the United States, almost every state has banned the cell phone usage by the motorist while driving (Kiesbye 68). They have a public health law research organization that records and take track of the statistics of the accidents involving texting while driving. Three years ago, traffic authority in Australia installed cameras along the roads to capture each and every activity taking place even in the absence of the traffic police. Besides, they also have undercover motorbikes that patrol along the highways and take note of the reckless drivers breaking the laws of texting while driving. The transport legislation has recently changed the rules that restrict the P1 and P2 drivers from accessing the mobile phone while driving unless they are parked out of traffic.
The bad habit of texting while driving should be highly avoided because it is destructive and dangerous as it causes accidents that would have been easily avoided. The act of texting is also addictive and drivers should try to minimize phone usage while driving to avoid falling victims of the situation. The relevant transport authority should also try to create public awareness of the dangers and repercussions associated with texting while driving by educating both the drivers and passengers. The passengers can also help to minimize accidents caused by texting simply by ensuring the driver does not operate his or her mobile phone while driving. In case the driver turns out to be stubborn, the passenger can report to the relevant authority (Nemme, Heidi, and White 1259). The driver can decide to switch off their mobile phone before starting their car to avoid the temptation of reading or composing text messages. People should also avoid composing text messages to their friends who are drivers when they are driving.
One of the most effective ways to reduce the texting and driving menace is to initiate an attitudinal change among drivers of all ages. It is worth to recognize that the problem of texting and driving is not isolated to young drivers, but it affects all drivers. Statistics shows that adults write texts more while driving than teenagers. Initiating ways that encourage people to stop the texting and driving behavior is the most effective remedy. Several corporate entities are already involved in efforts to stop the texting and driving menace. Telecommunications companies such as AT &T. T-Mobile and Verizon have worked together in public campaigns such as the “It Can Wait” campaign to discourage the dangerous behavior (Quisenberry 303). Changing the attitudes of people about texting and driving is vital, which proves that marketers can play a significant role in doing so. Since the beginning of “It can Wait” campaign, the number of texting-while-driving-related accidents has reduced, which indicated a significant nation-wide behavioral change in the United States. The same efforts are applicable worldwide.
The impact of texting and driving on road safety cannot be underestimated, and the solutions to the problem should be crafted in such a way as to be cognizant of societal norms. Parents should lead by example. Young people should grow up seeing parents discouraging texting and driving. The corporate society has been on the forefront in discouraging texting and driving through public campaigns, but legislative restrictions should introduce punitive measures for texting and driving. The focus on teens as drivers who are likely to text and drive obscures the fact that older adults report the highest prevalence. Therefore, the interventionist programs should transcend age groups in order to create a society that adheres to traffic rules collectively.
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Espejo, Roman. Cell Phones And Driving. Farmington Hills, Mich. : Greenhaven Press, A part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.
Jacques, Michele Siuda. Teen Driving. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013.
Kiesbye, Stefan. Cell Phones And Driving. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Greenhaven Press, 2011.
Moreno, Megan A. “Texting and Driving.” JAMA pediatrics 168.12 (2014): 1172-1172.
Nemme, Heidi E., and Katherine M. White. “Texting while driving: Psychosocial influences on young people’s texting intentions and behaviour.” Accident Analysis & Prevention, 42.4 (2010): 1257-1265.
Quisenberry, Phillip Neil. “Texting and Driving: Can it be Explained by the General Theory of Crime?” American Journal of Criminal Justice, 40.2 (2015): 303-316.