Would you purposely close your eyes for five seconds while driving at a speed of sixty miles per hour on a freeway while in five o’clock traffic? This is one of the questions that people ought to answer before texting while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA a) has established that texting while driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. Unfortunately, most motorists read and reply to texts while driving despite understanding the adverse consequences of their actions pose. According to the National Safety Council NSC, a), the number of motorists using phones while in traffic increased from 0.2 percent in 2005 to 2.9 percent in 2019. Thus, it is not a surprise that an estimated 3,142 people died in the U.S. in 2019 following motor vehicle accidents attributable to distracted driving (NHTSA, a). Texting while driving should be treated the same as drunken driving because both lead to death behind irresponsibility.
Distraction is one of the leading causes of road crashes in the present societies where phones are gradually becoming a basic necessity. Distracted driving refers to activities that divert or take away drivers’ attention from their responsibility of safe driving (NHTSA, a). These include eating, drinking, texting, and talking to people while driving, to name a few. Paying attention to irrelevant stimuli and pursuing distracting activities affects drivers’ behaviors, leading to miscalculations of distance, poor lane observance, longer brake response times, or assumptions of safe driving-related issues (Karthaus, Wascher, & Getzmann 1). Teens often experience a “fear of being left out”, which motivates them to check for and reply to messages on their phones regularly. Such distractions predispose them to accidents in superhighways, intersections, or other parts of the roads that require them to initiate rapid and focused responses while driving on the road.
Texting while driving is illegal, and individuals found culpable should receive harsher punishments than a traffic ticket. Reports indicate that texting while driving is the primary cause of fatalities on the road. NSC (a) conducted a survey that established that the percent of drivers manipulating phones and electronic devices while driving increased by 1,300 percent from 2005 to 2019. In 2019, an estimated 3,142 and 290,000 people died and sustained serious injuries, respectively, attributable to distractions while driving. According to the NSC (a), distraction-related deaths and injuries reported in the U.S. are abnormally high. For example, out of the 3,142 fatal car crashes reported in 2019, an estimated 387 involved the use of cell phones while driving (NSC a). On the other hand, out of the 290,000 injury crashes reported during the same period, 21,000 involved cellphone manipulation during driving.
Like texting and driving, intoxicated driving is a serious public health issue because it predisposes people to preventable injuries and mortalities. In 2019, a total of 10,142 deaths attributable to drunk driving were reported across the United States (NHTSA, b). These statistics demonstrate that alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving are serious public health issues because they both lead to preventable deaths and injuries. Driving under the influence of alcohol and text driving claim the lives of over 10,000 and 350 Americans, respectively, every year. Even though both incidents cause significant deaths and injuries across the U.S., the punishments accorded to individuals found culpable for these crimes differ considerably. Drunk drivers tend to receive stricter penalties than their counterparts found guilty of texting while driving.
Text driving also causes significant damage to properties and affects people’s daily lives. Texting while driving results in a loss of lives and physical damage to cars and other properties along the highway. Recent reports indicate that property damage following car crashes involving the usage of phones increased by 2.1 percent from 2011 (563,000) to 2015 (617,000) (NSC). In 2019, the estimated property damage from car crashes associated with cell phone use totaled 696,000. Property damage, particularly the physical destruction of cars, also affects people’s quality of life because some will be forced to use public means to travel to their destinations. Equally, text driving could make one suffer a wide range of injuries, including brain injuries and damage to the spinal cord. These injuries would affect the affected individual’s ability to perform routine tasks, causing significant disruptions in their daily lives.
Distractions, such as cellphone usage, are a menace in societies because they are illegal and reflect an act of selfishness. All states in the U.S. have developed policies that prohibit distracted driving activities, including texting, receiving calls, and other activities that are likely to divert the attention of drivers from safe driving (NHTSA, a). Some motorists break these laws to fulfill their selfish goals despite understanding the ramifications of their actions. Texting and driving are selfish because drivers deliberately disregard other people’s rights, including their right to life, by replying to messages that could wait.
Certain activities on roads and natural phenomena are unavoidable and could cause road accidents, particularly among motorists who use their phones while driving. Countries often activate specific actions to improve the status of their roads, and the personnel who perform road maintenances usually place signs to alert drivers. Distracted drivers or motorists whose attentions are distracted by cell phones are likely to miss such signs and cause fatal accidents. Equally, bad weather conditions, such as snowing, also cause poor visibility requiring drivers to remain alert during driving. According to NHTSA, reading and sending texts takes the driver’s eyes off the road for about five seconds, and for a car traveling at 55mph would have covered a distance equal to the perimeter of a football pitch. That time is enough to miss seeing the driver in front hitting brakes, road signs, and other events happening on the road, including poor road conditions attributable to bad weather.
Distracted driving simulations have also provided crucial insights into the essence of avoiding texting while driving. According to the Stewart Law Offices, a simulation study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) established that texting while driving slows drivers’ reactions by 35 percent. The TRL also found that consumption of alcohol up to the legal limit slows motorists’ responses by 12 percent. Such outcomes suggest that writing texts while driving is more dangerous than driving after consuming alcohol up to legally acceptable levels. These outcomes emphasize the importance of avoiding the use of phones during driving. People have many things to do, but they should avoid texting while driving, or they can pull over and stop if they must read or send messages.
Some individuals argue that modern technologies, such as Google’s Siri, allow them to read and send messages without interacting with their devices physically (Ngak). They also feel that technologies like Bluetooth will enable them to connect their devices to the car and send messages without necessarily touching taking their eyes off the road. Nonetheless, all these activities constitute distraction and could affect one’s judgment while on the road. The use of cell phones, whether independently or together with other technologies, should be avoided at all costs because they contribute to preventable injuries and deaths on the road.
Texting while driving should not be ignored because it predisposes individuals to unfortunate situations. Think about the figures about annual deaths attributable to these events, criminal charges, high insurance payments, revocation of driving license, loss of properties, injuries people sustain, medical expenses, and the emotional burden people experience when arranging the burial of their loved ones. These should be sufficient motivation to stop texting while driving.
Drunken driving and texting while driving have similarities in fatal numbers therefore, they should be treated equally. Reading and sending texts while driving increases the likelihood of getting involved in a car crash more than drunk driving. The findings suggest that texting while driving is the primary cause of fatalities in societies, particularly among young adults, but liable individuals receive lenient punishments than those found guilty of drunk driving. It is undoubtedly time for texting and driving to be treated equally with drunk driving because they are both epidemics and predispose societies to the same effects. After all facts have been considered, ask yourself this, is your life or that of another innocent being worth risking by being distracted from a text message?
Karthaus, Melaine, Wascher, Edmund, Getzmann, Stephan. “Distraction in the driving Simulator: An event-related potential (ERP) study with young, middle-aged, and older drivers.” Safety, vol. 7, no. 36, (2021), p.1-17.
National Safety Council (a). “Distracted driving.” National Safety Council, (2021), https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/motor-vehicle-safety-issues/distracted-driving/. Accessed March 2, 2022.
National Safety Council (b). “Alcohol-impaired driving.” National Safety Council, (2021). https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/motor-vehicle-safety-issues/alcohol-impaired-driving/.
NHTSA (a). “Distracted driving.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (2021), https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving. Accessed March 2, 2022.
NHTSA (b). “Drunk driving.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (2021). https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving#driving-after-drinking-5036. Accessed March 2, 2022.
Nkak, Chenda. “Siri and driving just as risky as texting, study says.” CBS News, (2013). https://www.cbsnews.com/news/siri-and-driving-just-as-risky-as-texting-study-says/. Accessed March 2, 2022.
Stewart Law Offices. “Is texting while driving as dangerous as drunk driving? Stewart Law Offices, (2020). https://www.stewartlawoffices.net/blog/is-texting-while-driving-as-dangerous-as-drunk-driving Accessed March 2, 2022.