Driving under influence of technology
Texting has affected many aspects of modern life. The New York Times summed up the phenomena best when they relayed this modern truth “some relationships live and die on the strength of the 160-character, thumb-typed phone texts.”
Texting has even infiltrated situations where its use can be fatal. 20 percent of injury car accidents in 2009 were a result of distracted driving.
The No. 1 cause of distracted driving is — you guessed it — texting. Last year, some 3,092 roadway fatalities involved distracted drivers. Teens, college students and professionals have all been guilty of texting while driving.
The truth of the matter is that this behavior is very dangerous and puts the lives of others on the road at risk. The website goes on to say that “drivers who use hand-held devices are four-times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.” Robert Sumwalt of the National Safety and Transportation Board (NSTB) has said: “This (distracted driving) is becoming the new DUI. It’s becoming epidemic.”
What is the solution then? In Texas, there is a law that prohibits texting and driving if you are under the age of 18. In last year’s meeting of the Texas state legislature, a bill — one which would have made it illegal to text and drive — passed both houses.
However, Governor Rick Perry vetoed the bill from becoming law. He felt that this was an example of “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.” Different states have different laws regarding this issue.
When HIV was discovered to be the cause of AIDS, various organizations came together to pursue an aggressive educative campaign. Early on, they realized that they could not stop people from having sex, so they focused on education. They taught and provided people with tools for having safe sex.
Finally, after years of this campaign the results have shown that it worked. People are having safer sex. Instead of merely criminalizing texting and driving, perhaps the government should take a page from the HIV-playbook and begin educating the masses on how to text responsibly.
If a national ban on texting were to pass, enforcing it would be nearly impossible. People could be ticketed for merely looking down at their phone. Accidents would surely rise, as people would begin to hold their phones lower than the dashboard to hide the phone from police.
Even when giving their recommendations, the NSTB was quoted in a CNN article as saying: “Cell phone laws alone would not solve the problem but must be accompanied by aggressive educational campaigns.”
Technology is a heaven-sent monster whose growth cannot be stopped. Sometimes society and the government lag behind and need to catch up. The simple truth is that modern Americans are ‘wired in’ at all times. It is not just a youth problem now that the private sector is using technology more and more.
The more logical and probable response to this problem is to educate drivers about when it is the appropriate time to check your phone when you’re in the car.
Alejandro Caballero is a creative writing junior and may be reached at [email protected]