The chilling statistics of the dangers of texting and driving still won’t bring down the number of people who engage in phone use while driving. While over 600,000 people on the road admit to being on their phones while driving and 1.6 million car crashes are caused due to cell phone use, people do not show signs of stopping this hazardous behavior. Taking your eyes off of the road to read a text message for five seconds could have you join one of the 330,000 people injured as a result of texting while driving. If people continue to adopt this “but it won’t happen to me” attitude, the rising epidemic of cell phone-related crashes and deaths will continue to rise year after year.
Teenagers Fare the Worst
The group that seems to be most affected by texting and driving are teenagers. Teens aged 15-19 were behind the wheel during 10% of all fatal crashes, which makes them one of the most vulnerable groups who partake in this unhealthy habit. So dire are the incidences of accidents caused by texting that they are reported to one day overtake drunk driving in all fatal accidents. For now, drunk driving is the leading cause of car crash deaths in people over 20, while texting and driving is the leading killer of teenagers. Although many states have laws in place to punish drivers with a fine who text on the road, many people are choosing to not follow the rules.
There are options available to stop people from using their phones while driving. For example, some phones can sense when you are in motion in a vehicle and you can choose to pause your notifications until you are safely stopped. Unfortunately, the problem is that you can simply choose the option that says you are a passenger and quickly bypass the hold you put on your phone in the first place.
Technology Aims to Fill the Gap
The automotive industry has been quick to fill their newer models with features that allow you to hook your phone up to your car so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to use your phone. You can answer calls from your steering wheel and listen and respond orally to text messages over your radio.
There are several other ways that you can play an active role to help reduce the continued surge of this fatal habit. Here are a few suggestions:
- Let your children know that when it is time to drive they are not to look at their phones. Educate them on the possibilities of a car crash while texting. When you take them out to practice driving, encourage them to leave their cell phones at home, that way you are encouraging them to stay focused on driving.
- When you are driving, stay off your phone. You become an example for the people around you. If you are driving while texting then it is more likely that your family members will think the behavior is fine since you do it. If it is an emergency, pull over to make phone calls.
- Talk to your child’s school. If you are involved in their PTA or other community groups, encourage a meeting to discuss the dangers of texting and driving. The more informed people are about the possibilities of injury and fatality the more likely they will set rules and guidelines for themselves so they do not suffer the same fate.
- Get involved in your local government. There are 15 states that ban the use of holding phones while driving, but for the other 35 states, there is still work to be done to get stricter laws passed that will help protect the community. Rally your friends and family members to speak to their respective governments and change will swiftly take place once lawmakers take notice.
Break the Habit of Texting and Driving
If you are struggling to break your own habit of texting and driving, consider the consequences. If you do live in a state that has some sort of policy against texting and driving you could face hefty fees. That should be motivation enough to keep the habit in check. There is also the chance that everytime you look down to read a new message, you could change your life or someone else’s (for the worse) in an instant. If you do text and drive, and you receive a citation, your insurance rates can go up as a result. If you thought you were paying too much now for car insurance, you won’t appreciate the rate increase as a result of a foolish mistake.
If you are driving your family or friends, consider their lives before you decide to send a text message. Hey, if you trust them, let them send the text on your behalf and read the responses for you. If you don’t trust your best friend to text the guy you’re dating for you, then maybe you should leave the guy in suspense until you get to your destination safely. Most people don’t send emergency text messages; the beauty of a text message is that you can respond when the timing is good for you. Driving is clearly not the best time. Plus, when you’re in a hurry to send a text message you might send the wrong thing, and autocorrect can either be a life-saver or a reputation-ruiner. Sending an incoherent text is probably not the most important reason to stop texting while driving, but it is something that can be easily avoided. Bottom line: save the communication for when your attention is not required for driving.
If you really can’t resist answering your phone, make a habit of pulling over. Sure, you might look weird texting in the parking lot of Target for 20 minutes, but if that’s what you need to do, and that’s the safest way to do it, then fret none! Pulling over and finding a safe place to stop is not the same as pausing for a red light or a stop sign. There are going to be people behind you that do not want someone distracted in front of them while they’re in a hurry. Stop-and-go traffic might make you want to reach for your phone, too. Paying attention to your phone instead of the traffic around you is the easiest way to accidentally rear end someone or let a group of cars slide in front of you.
There are plenty of ways to quit texting and driving. As soon as you make it a habit to not text and drive, you’ll be cruising on the road with one less worry, and as a much safer driver.