Using Phones while Driving is very Dangerous

Texting and driving is very hazardous and causes fatalities every day. People believe distracted driving, specifically texting, is a major factor of deadly automobile crashes each year. It is often hard to resist the vibration of a phone while driving, but motorists are beginning to admit to the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Currently, there is not a national ban on texting while using a mobile phone while driving; however, many states have passed laws against communication through texts while operating a vehicle. Even though the government has banned texting while driving in many states, motorists continue to text and drive because of the impatience to respond immediately, but what if that message becomes the last one forever. At the present time, there are 47 states with laws that prohibit this distraction (ghsa, n.d.). States have their own laws of this behavior and the details in such laws vary.

Due to the excessive accidents caused by distracted drivers, many states, including Tennessee, have banned drivers from texting while driving, but is that enough to make a difference when it comes to the lives of others? According to the DMV (2019) Tennessee’s law prohibits texting only while a driver’s vehicle is in motion. Currently, drivers are allowed to use the text feature of a mobile phone at red lights and anytime the car is not moving. Even though this law is in effect, drivers are often texting while driving causing a threat to others. The consequence for texting and driving in Tennessee is a $60 fine, which is not an alarming charge. Repeated offenders will pay the same fine, regardless of how many tickets are issued for this behavior (dmv 2019). This law may soon be amended as lawmakers are currently working to ban all hand-held cell phone use, which includes texting and talking on the phone (gang & allison, 2019). If this new law passes through legislation, motorists will most likely begin to use any voice controlled messaging that is available. Some vehicles have an installed voice command system, so not all drivers will have to begin with a new means of communication. Will this new law help with distracted driving, since all types of communication are considered to be multi-tasking while driving?

Despite statewide campaigns spreading the word about distracted driving, such as texting, and its dangers, Tennessee accident rates remain high. Ongoing state public awareness campaigns, calling specific attention to texting while driving as one of the main distractions of today’s teen drivers, are attempting to educate drivers on what can lead to a fatality. Multi-tasking while operating a motorized vehicle is dangerous for the driver, passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians due to lack of focus on driving safely. Accidents are 23 times more likely when driving distracted (Snyder, n.d.).

According to the DMV (2019) texting requires three types of distractions which create tragedy: “cognitive distractions, visual distractions, and manual distractions.” Each of these types of distractions is dangerous, causing cell phone usage while driving to be very risky. Losing focus while driving is definitely a safety concern for motorists on the roadways. Reading a text, as well as sending a text causes the mind to be focused on something other than driving itself. Safe driving requires a constant awareness of traffic patterns, road signs, weather conditions, and being able to react to others on the roadway. Cell phone usage while driving restricts the drivers from being completely aware of these important factors. Keeping distractions to a minimum is known to contribute to safety while on the roads.

Visual distractions take place any time a driver takes immediate focus off the road. Reading a text, sending a text, checking the GPS for locations, or even to look at something interesting on the side of the road are visual distractions that arise on a daily basis. Cell phones have also become a distraction among teens everywhere and are causing tragedies on roadways. It is impossible to stay attentive to the road when using a cell phone while driving. Visual distractions are not good for motorists on our roads.

Manual distractions occur when a driver removes his hands from the wheel to hold food or beverages, to search for an item or song, and most importantly to manipulate electronic devices. Sending and receiving a text on a cell phone require one to manually control the device by typing information that most likely could wait until reaching the destination. Each of these types of distractions are proven to be dangerous while driving. Cell phone use while driving is hazardous because it involves all three of these distractions. Hands-free cell phone use is on the rise among drivers, but is it less distracting? Using a hands-free device causes the motorist to think it is safer, but in actuality it just allows the hands to do other distracting things.

Public awareness campaigns urging drivers to put down their cellphones and to concentrate on just driving are being brought to the forefront by cellphone carriers, car manufacturers, auto insurance companies, public health organizations, and other forms of advertisements in hopes of making a difference in the statistics of distracted driving accidents in the United States. There is a great need to continue these campaigns due to the number of accidents that occur each year due to distracted driving, such as texting. April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month with House Resolution 1186 passing legislation after a young girl was killed by a driver while texting. The child’s mother, Shelley Forney, become an advocate and her efforts became passed with an overwhelming majority in 2010, two years after the death of her daughter (textninja). Another way to help families with texting and driving is through installing apps on smartphones such as SafeDrive. This particular app disables the text feature while driving, and it offers rewards for not texting while driving. SafeDrive awards points that can be used for discounts at participating stores (devpost.com) which is an attractive feature for some users.

Another means of helping with this safety issue is using grant money to make a difference. Grants have been awarded to organizations in an effort to help with spreading the word about the safety issues of texting and driving. Boyne City High School in Michigan has partnered with the Michigan State Police in an effort to bring more awareness about distracted driving to teens in the community. Boyne City High School’s Pride Team is a team of students who have pledged to make a difference and to encourage other students to do better and achieve their goals in and out of school. A grant provided Michigan State Police allows 44 schools to get more attention to distractive driving by having pledge to not text while driving (petoskeynews.com). The statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2018) indicate that a downward trend is expected to remain, since there was a decrease of almost 2% from 2016 – 2017. Because citizens have been exposed to the many sources of information concerning the dangers of distracted driving and more efforts for delivering this safety message continue to arise, the numbers of fatalities should continue to decline.

What can Americans do to prevent tragedies in families today? Silencing incoming text message alerts and phone calls can help with focus while driving and refraining from using cell phones, altogether, while the vehicle is in motion. Motorists should adhere to all public awareness efforts, so they don’t become a part of today’s statistics. The ultimate decision to practice safe driving habits is completely up to the driver himself. Committing to safe driving is a life-safer!

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