Young drivers are consistently over represented in national crash statistics, this however, is not due to inexperience on the roads or lacking skills.
The prevalence of youthful licensees in the mounting road tolls can be, for the most part, attributed to distractions.
Sending and receiving text messages, searching an iPod for music, taking phone calls, setting up a GPS, checking Instagram or Facebook, or reading a web based version of a newspaper from the tiny screen of their smartphones.
For the purpose of this article I am going to focus on text messages and driving, as it is something that I am certain almost all of us have at one point or another been guilty of.
Research states that reading a text message while driving can result in the vehicle operators eyes leaving the road for 10 percent of the time spent driving.
While both writing and reading messages leads to the drivers eyes absenting their surroundings for upwards of 40 percent.
What is scary though, is the complacency which has developed in us all surrounding texting while driving.
The first time you did it, you felt scared, you thought for sure you would be caught by police, or have an accident – but you did it anyway.
The next time you digitally communicated while driving, you felt a little less nervous, and when you reached your destination and both you and the vehicle remained in tact, you proceeded to text behind the wheel on numerous occasions.
We have become complacent with the issue – believing that, if we have sent a text while driving before and gotten away with it, we will continue to get away it, unscathed, uninjured, and alive.
Prior to the 1980s drivers believed they could drink several beers after work and still drive home completely out of harms way, though the number of drivers drinking, driving and getting away with it is far fewer these days.
In the same way, dangerous texting drivers need to be targeted with laws and campaigns to ensure the act is reduced, and so to are the subsequent deaths.
Although drink driving still occurs today, rates are far lower than that of 30 years ago, and this can be attributed to major crackdowns on drink drivers including mobile random breath tests, and severe penalties for offenders.
While I personally do not know how police can introduce such hard-hitting laws on texting behind the wheel, perhaps one way to catch offenders is for cars to require a system which blocks service to mobile phones whilst the car is in drive.
It is an expensive means to an end, but if it saves lives and gets phones out of hands and eyes back on the roads perhaps it is necessary?
We live in such a busy world now that staring at the road, for many people, is simply not enough to keep our mind occupied – hence the decision to start scanning the internet or your Facebook page for some onroad entertainment.
Whatever the solution may be, it needs to be developed quickly, before drivers become even more complacent and go to even more extreme lengths to find onscreen entertainment while behind the wheel.
- Marlo Brown