It’s sad that whenever I go out I see a nearby driver swerving, braking late, or stopped at a green-light, and I can no longer assume that person is drunk. Now, when I drive I have a carefully manufactured formula for discerning who is a drunk and who is texting. Worse over about this epidemic is the large majority of people who take part don’t feel it is even remotely as dangerous as driving drunk. Some of these individuals actually think they are “good” at it, and it’s OK for them to do so! They always say, “I’m a good multi-tasker.” I am here to let off a little steam, and present some facts that you “in-text-icated” drivers with the virtuosic driving skills may not be aware of.
The majority of drivers we see texting today are a part of the younger generations. If I were making a guess on my own observation, I would say people in their twenties or younger. I think this is attributed to these generations having grown with the technology that is available today. Interestingly enough, the gender stereotype doesn’t really live up to the latest studies. In the study, Gender Differences in Psychosocial Predictors of Texting While Driving, conducted by Dr. Cindy Struckman-Johnson it was found that women may text with more frequency while driving and men may text less, however, women’s texts were typically less than a sentence while men averaged one to five sentences per text. Considering this information it would appear gender does not make much difference at all.
So why do people text and drive? A common question that comes with many answers. Most of the reasons I have heard include temptation, anticipation, convenience, and false confidence. Being one of these adults having grown up in a world where gratification has become more and more instantaneous, I have a bit of an understanding. I remember being a child and listening to the dial up tone for AOL, but now I have a faster internet connection via my phone than my home internet. I get the latest news from around the world at the tip of my fingers in a fraction of a second, and when there is a free moment where my mind is not engaged it seems to gravitate toward the use of my phone. As a society we have distanced ourselves more and more from personal interaction to the point where we abbreviate or otherwise pervert our own languages. Writing in a short sentence via text versus a vocal conversation for the sake of convenience and selectability of these engagements. We have become absorbed with ourselves and only embrace the outside world in the ways we choose to. This to me is best described as the electronic hermit.
As we become more disconnected with one another we become more self-interested. Now add in the fact that we have already naturally selfish young adults absorbed in a phone that blocks out the rest of the world, we will encase them in a metal box engineered so well that outside noise is but a hum in the background. Hell, people are afraid to pull directly beside one another at a stop light for fear of a millisecond of eye contact with the driver next to them!
This shell of technology and engineering is what makes us so comfortable with doing such dangerous acts. We have become oblivious to the real world, under the childish assumption that it will never happen to me. Well, I’m here to tell you the statistics say otherwise. In 2011 the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) found that of the 3,331 fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver, 385 people died in an accident involving the use of a cell phone. Enter the argument about being a good multitasker. I have no tolerance for this, as anyone who has read even the slightest bit of information knows that multitasking is a myth. We can merely switch from one task to another quickly, but cannot perform more than one task at any given moment. If you don’t believe me check out the proof from NPR. In fact, the DOT says the average time your eyes are away from the road to text is 5 seconds. The DOT states,”When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.” How is that not dangerous?
I know none of the shocking facts I lay out here is going to make a difference to the self-absorbed young adult out there. This blog is more of a plea for the salvation of the generation I am perilously a part of. I am begging you for my life and my families life that you re-evaluate just what kind of impact you make on the driving world today. As harmless as your intentions are while you text and drive, if you injure or kill someone close to me so you could text the word “OK”, I’m not sure I will forgive you. We are all human and we all make mistakes, but accident or not, every action has consequences. Please, think about what it is you are doing on the roads today. We all deserve love so let’s not cause unnecessary pain…
I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving. Happy holidays to everyone, and as always I love you all!