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:
- 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.