Categories
Adolescence Communication Safety

Texting and Driving: It’s Not Worth It

A woman reading SMS messages on her mobile pho...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Texting and Driving: Are you guilty of doing it? Even for a second? To an extent, we all are. Even if it’s at a stoplight, and no one is moving, many of us will check our phones. Gone are the days of “just driving.” We have evolved into a culture of fast-moving, busy, multi-tasking folk, and the importance of checking a text or checking our email or checking social media outlets has consumed us.

 

When we text and drive, we are driving blind for short periods of time.  According to this study, “Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55mph BLINDFOLDED.”

 

The University of Utah did a study, comparing drivers who are texting and driving versus those drinking and driving and found “Texting while driving is the same as driving after drinking four beers.” That same study also “found that cell phone drivers had slower reactions, had longer following distances, took longer to recover speed lost following a braking episode, and were involved in more accidents. In the case of the cell phone driver, the impairments appear to be attributable, in large part, to the diversion of attention from the processing of information necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle (Strayer et al., 2003; Strayer & Johnston, 2001).”

 

One of the things I do like about texting is the fact that it is a form of non-contiguous conversation. It was originally designed as a way of communicating necessary information that didn’t require an immediate result. Times have changed, however, and the need for instant gratification has trumped the original utilitarian modality of the text message. The current generation prefers using text messaging to live conversation. In fact, that is often the primary means of communication.  It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s non-confrontational. It’s not uncommon for breakups and arguments to occur via text. And with the advent of smart phones, one is afforded less character limitations, so the “text” book has evolved. Texting is so easy that one can do it anywhere and at any time; ironically, the danger is the same: you can do it anywhere and at any time.

 

Let’s make a concerted effort to be more responsible and more aware of our actions and interactions with those around us. We can start with implementing the following actions to stop texting and driving:

Action:

  • Put your phone in the trunk or the glove box when you’re driving.
  • Wait until you are parked to respond our check your phone
  • Let your friends know you won’t be responsive if you’re driving.
  • When you’re not driving, try calling someone instead of texting. Make an effort to make contact beyond your fingertips.

 Notice any changes that may occur:

  • Are you more or less stressed out?
  • Are you more or less aware?
  • Are you less distracted and more engaged with the activity of driving?
  • Are your interactions with others more or less engaged?

 

Next, take the  “It Can Wait” pledge here and make a commitment to stop texting and driving. Encourage your friends to do the same. This is how change happens: one positive decision at a time; eliminating texting and driving is a wonderful step in a positive direction.

 

Watch this trailer for Werner Herzog’s documentary “From One Second to the Next” which documents four lives that have been impacted by texting-related accidents.

https://youtu.be/SCVZqeAGY-A

Categories
Adolescence Communication Prevention Safety

Teens: For Your Safety, Don’t Text and Drive

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Don’t text and drive!” Your parents say it, your teachers say it, the billboards say it, and even some of your friends say it. But you still do it. I’d ask why, but there’s really no logical explanation for it. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t occasionally participate in texting and driving, even though I know it’s dangerous. It’s not a good idea—for any of us. Nothing is so important it can’t wait until you can pull over or until you reach your destination. The fines alone for texting and driving should be enough of a deterrent, right?!

U.S. government research shows “more teen drivers are buckling up and not driving drunk than in years past,” but texting and driving is “posing a new threat.” In fact, according to a research team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “One in three high school students said they had texted or emailed while driving during the past month.” While the decline in drunk driving incidents and the increase in buckle-ups is wonderful news, the texting issue is a deadly problem.

Texting is the primary means of communication for teens: Teens typically send upwards of 100 texts a day. I’ve seen teenagers text each other in the same room! It’s clear that there’s a whole world of communication happening via technology, some good, and in the case of texting and driving, some deadly.  According to Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center in Washington, “A lot of teens say ‘Well, if the car’s not moving and I’m at a stoplight or I’m stuck in traffic, that’s OK.'” Lenhart goes on to say, “Other teens acknowledge they know it’s not safe, but think it is safer if they hold the phone up so they can see the road and text at the same time.” Neither one of these practices is safe.

It’s hopeful that this current generation of teens is exhibiting safer driving behaviors. There are less incidents of drunk driving (from 17% in 1997 to 8% in 2011) and a 44% drop in car crashes amongst teens. This says a lot about kids making healthier choices. I’m hoping to see a positive shift in the choice to text and drive. This is a fad that really needs a short shelf-life.