Texting and talking on the phone while driving are widely recognized as dangerous activities that contribute to an alarming number of accidents and fatalities on the roads. This practice diverts the driver’s attention away from the road, impairing their ability to react quickly and appropriately to changing traffic conditions. In this essay, we will delve into the negative consequences of texting and talking on the phone while driving, supported by statistical data that highlight the gravity of the issue.
When drivers engage in texting, their eyes and focus are drawn away from the road, resulting in a significant increase in the risk of accidents. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Considering that at a speed of 55 miles per hour, a vehicle can cover the length of a football field in that time, it becomes evident how even a brief distraction can have catastrophic consequences.
The statistics regarding the negative impact of texting and talking on the phone while driving are alarming. The NHTSA reports that in 2019, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people in the United States alone. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers who engage in text messaging while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash event compared to non-distracted drivers.
Not only does texting while driving pose a significant danger, but talking on the phone also presents its own set of risks. Although hands-free devices may seem like a safer alternative, studies have shown that they still contribute to cognitive distractions. The brain is engaged in the conversation rather than focusing entirely on the act of driving, leading to slower reaction times and impaired situational awareness.
Research conducted by the University of Utah concluded that drivers talking on a cell phone are as impaired as drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, which is the legal limit in many countries. In fact, the impairment level can be even higher, as the study also revealed that drivers using cell phones exhibited a slower reaction time compared to drunk drivers. These findings emphasize the magnitude of the risk involved in talking on the phone while driving.
Negative consequences of distracted driving
The consequences of these distracted driving behaviors extend beyond the loss of life. They also result in significant economic costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States alone, distracted driving-related crashes cost approximately $40 billion each year in medical expenses, property damage, and lost productivity.
Efforts to combat this issue have been made through legislation and public awareness campaigns. Many countries and states have enacted laws that prohibit texting and the use of handheld devices while driving. These laws are supported by the overwhelming evidence of the dangers associated with distracted driving. However, enforcing such laws remains a challenge, as some drivers continue to engage in these risky behaviors.
Role of Technology
In recent years, technology has played a role in addressing the issue of distracted driving. Companies like Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) have developed telematics solutions that aim to make driving safer by providing real-time feedback and analysis on driving behaviors. Telematics devices, often installed in vehicles or accessed through smartphone apps, collect data on factors such as acceleration, braking, speeding, and phone usage while driving.
It remains to be seen how quickly the public and companies can adopt these telematics solutions to improve the driving behavior of the general population. And at the far end all of this may be history if self driving cars and autonomous driving technology can go mainstream!