Has any technology become more intertwined with our daily lives than the cell phone? Over a very short period of time, we have all come to depend on them for communication, entertainment, and information. No doubt they enrich our lives in ways none of us could have dreamed of just a few decades ago, but, as society is now learning, all of the benefits of cell phones do not come without cost. One of the most striking downsides of this bold new technology is quickly becoming a source of great tragedy: car accidents due to texting while driving. As prevalent as this danger has become, there are a few steps everyone can take to help end the problem altogether and save many innocent lives.
Instant Communication: The New “Norm”
The solution to the problem seems all too simple: just don’t text while you drive! Yet, it has become so common that, according to the journal Pediatrics, texting now accounts for more teenage fatalities than drunk driving. In today’s world, we have become so accustomed to instant communication that we tend to not even think that there may sometimes be a very good reason to put our phones down. A quick text message seems so trivial and inconsequential; how could it possibly have such dire consequences? If we as a society are going to begin to have an impact on curbing fatal accidents due to texting, we need to begin here. We need to make sure that every one of us understands just how quickly things can go from carefree to tragic. We need to understand that even with the demand of instant communication, there is simply no message that is worth someone’s life.
Texting While Driving: Not Just a Teenage Problem
It would be easy to place the blame for texting while driving largely on the teenage population. According to a teen driver survey conducted by AT&T, 77% of teens said that even though adults tell them not to text and drive, the adults themselves do it “all the time.” From the businessman texting a client that he is running late, to the soccer mom texting her husband to remind him to pick up milk, the problem of texting and driving is one that is shared across all age groups. How can teens ever be expected to stop texting and driving while the adults in their lives do it “all the time”?
What We Can Do
Society as a whole can do things such as create laws that make texting illegal while driving (many states have done this), or ask phone manufacturers to render phones inoperable while driving (though this is fraught with difficulty and thought to be impractical). However, the true solution is largely one that relies on personal responsibility. Once we commit to the decision to refrain from this truly deadly practice, it becomes a simple matter of implementing some basic strategies to make sure that we do not subject others and ourselves to this easily avoidable danger. On an individual level, it’s simple: if you find that you are driving and absolutely need to send a text message, pull off to the side of the road. This will only delay your trip by a minute or two. If you find the temptation to text and drive too great, simply put your cell phone somewhere that is inaccessible to you while driving. If everyone were to practice just one of these two simple measures, there would be exactly zero fatalities due to texting while driving.
The solution to this ever increasing problem depends on all of us. It requires a recognition of the problem itself, acknowledgement of its enormous consequences, and dedication to take personal, individual responsibility to ensure that it never happens. We don’t have to give up one of the greatest conveniences of modern life altogether, but if we all make a commitment to stop texting while driving, we can enjoy those conveniences without any tragic downside.