Driving to Destruction

While driving, it seems logical to use cell phones. It seems quick, efficient, and sometimes necessary. On average, to read or respond to a text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. What most people fail to recognize, it that it takes 3 seconds of distraction to cause an accident.

The amount of people who are using cell phones while driving is already hefty and the number continues to increase. According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of car accidents are caused by talking or texting while driving. In 2008, 6,000 people were killed and half a million people were injured in car accidents caused by cell phone usage while driving.

In our generation, using cell phones, no matter the location, comes naturally. 60 percent of teenagers, the least experienced drivers, admitted to have texted while driving. About 1 in 5 of fatal car crashes involving teens ages 16-19 were the direct result of using a cell phone while driving. To add to the terror, this statistic grows every year.

Last September, a high school senior, Todd, made a choice that ended his life. On the way to pick up his mother’s fiancé from work, he chose to reply to a text. According to his phone records, he received a text seconds before he missed a bend in the road and crashed. There were two bystanders that immediately called for help, but the young 19 year old was pinned inside the car, and they could not reach him through the wreckage. His last words to them were “I want my mommy.”

Todd had the world at his fingertips. He helped the varsity coach at his high school start their first bowling team. Now, he is nothing but a memory in the lives of those who loved him. He will just be a memory of a dedicated, loyal friend, caring boyfriend, loving son, and a boy who never received the chance to grow up. Todd will never go to college, develop a career, fall in love, get married, or become a father.

As students we are repeatedly told that driving while intoxicated impairs our vision, concentration, and perception. But distracted driving is becoming the new drunk driving. In fact, driving under the influence of about 4 alcoholic drinks is equivalent to driving while talking on a cell phone. This makes the driver 4 times more likely to get into an accident. Texting while driving makes you 8 times more likely to get into an accident. Using a cell phone while driving impairs us the same way intoxicated driving does. In fact, texting while driving impairs the driver’s response time 18 percent. 18 percent seem like a miniscule amount, but it’s enough time to run an intersection, miss a stop sign, or slam into the car beside you holding a new family.

Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent and it takes away the use of your hands, eyes, and concentration. Scientifically, our brains aren’t designed to multitask. This distracted driving causes “intentional blindness.” The distraction causes the mind to comprehend ½ of what really exists.

It’s time to act. Most European countries have banned the use of handheld cell phones and U.S. states are progressively forming laws concerning restrictions. But as many know, it’s not the law that makes the change; it’s up to the people. It’s our personal responsibility as drivers to act safely and effectively. We must act as if every other driver on the road has their life resting in our hands, because they do. It only takes 3 seconds, a brief moment of distraction to destroy a life.

While driving, using cell phones seems logical and natural. It seems quick, efficient, and sometimes necessary. I know the temptation, but it’s our responsibility to act safely while behind the wheel. There is precious cargo in every car, and no call or text is worth a life. Phones are a gift, not a given. They can be lived without.

It’s time to act. In order to protect our friends, families, and all innocent drivers and bystanders, we must take action. If we don’t, the safety of our roads will continue to be dangerous. Don’t slip into the same trap Todd and so many other people have fallen into. We have the power to make sure their deaths were not in vain and we must learn from their fatal mistakes. The next time you get behind the wheel, ignore your cell phone. Not call or text is worth a life.





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