Is That Text Worth Death?

What has changed in your world in the past ten years? Likely, everything about your life has completely changed. Similarly, the technology world has changed immensely in the past ten years. TV’s have grown about 20 inches, computers have shrunk about 10 inches, and cell phones have evolved from cordless bricks to handheld lifelines that control our every move. Further, today’s cell phones give us the ability to send instant messages, send emails, update Facebook statuses, take pictures, use GPS, and a whole plethora of other applications. Many of these phones are more complex than your basic desktop computer! And while it may seem remarkable that we have limitless access at our fingertips, the extended capabilities of cell phones may be more detrimental than useful. One issue that may arise from this limitless access is texting and driving.

Since 2010, texting and driving has increased almost 50% (AT&T It Can Wait Campaign). The specific reason for this increase in texting and driving is unknown, but it has been found that texting and driving is even more dangerous than it once was (if that’s at all possible). Prior to touch screen phones, people were able to text without looking at their phones because they could feel the buttons. Today’s phones, however, require that we look at them because there are no buttons. Each time we look at our phones, we spend almost five seconds with our eyes off of the road (AT&T It Can Wait Campaign). Five seconds is enough time to travel across the length of a soccer field! And obviously, five seconds is also more than enough time to get into an accident. One report says that “texting and driving results in longer response times than even drunk driving!” A drunk driver only needs an additional four feet to start braking, while a driver who’s texting needs an additional 70 feet to begin braking (Cell Phone and Texting Accident Statistics).

So why do we continue to text and drive? Further, why are we still allowed to text and drive? Only fourteen states and the District of Colombia have banned texting and driving. Even more surprising is that only six states and the District of Colombia have prohibited driving and talking on the phone (Cell Phone and Texting Accident Statistics). With approximately 3,092 distraction-related deaths in 2010, you’d think lawmakers would crack down on this issue. Some argue, though, that it’s not the government’s responsibility. Do you think the government should put restrictions on what we’re allowed to do while driving? Or should we take it upon ourselves and just stop driving distracted?

For those who think we should take it upon ourselves to stop distracted driving: there’s an app for that. Recently, AT&T developed an app called “Drive Mode”.  Drive Mode is an app that once activated, disables incoming calls and text while you are driving. All calls go straight to voicemail and all texts and emails get autoreplies (if you choose).  Drive Mode also has an “allow list” of people that you’re allowed to receive calls from and make calls to while the app is running. Further, 911 is always accessible whether the app is running or not. If you choose to download this app, you are choosing to take the pledge to stop texting and driving. I already took the pledge. Will you?

If you are interested, take the pledge now! Do not text and drive. Someone needs you.

9 responses to “Is That Text Worth Death?

  1. Texting and driving is definitely a major concern and something we really need to look into. Sometimes, however, I can’t help but feel society actually supports it more than it tries to prevent it. We are always texting each other and checking our SNS accounts for the latest updates from our friends. Instead, we could be planning some time off to actually hang out and just talk with them face-to-face.

    Also, because we live in such a fast-paced society, everyone is always looking for a way to save time. We multitask and try doing things on the go. Some cars even have a built-in phone feature and GPS to further satisfy our “on the go” mentality. A GPS feature in phones just further encourages us to keep our eyes off the road.

    “It can wait” is a really appropriate slogan; “wait” being the key word here. I think it’ll be really difficult for people to get into that mentality, and I find it interesting how they actually have an app like that.

    • I think that texting and driving is a serious issue, but one that is hard to manage. For those states that make it illegal to text, are they going to ban other activities done on the phone too? Personally, I use my phone for GPS. So should that be made illegal too? Perhaps it should but how is a police officer supposed to be able to tell the difference between someone who is texting and someone who is dialing a phone number? Because in many states where it’s illegal to text it’s still legal to call.

      Also, I think that technology is advancing enough that perhaps texting would be okay. An example of this would be the Siri feature on newer iPhone versions. I will admit that I use my Siri all the time while driving and vocalize my text and send it that way. Yes it’s still a distraction but way less distracting because all I have to do is hold my home button down, tell Siri the message, tell Siri the contact, and vocalize the text. I can even have it read my text back to me to see if the text is correct, and tell it to send. I mean it’s still distracting but do you think technology can evolve further and make texting while driving safer?

  2. I agree that texting and driving is a bad idea, and something that should be taken seriously. My parents have always told me that “it can wait,” just like the campaign slogan states, and they are right. No text is worth your live or anyone else’s. I found it interesting, as you mentioned, that texting and driving has increased 50% in just these last few years.

    Our society has made it easy for us to be distracted with not only cell phones, but GPS systems and DVD players, and even eating food while driving. Cars now come equipped with touch screen navigation systems that Google restaurants while you drive, and Apple has equipped its latest iPhone with a voice activated messaging service, so you can speak your message instead of typing it, which is equally distracting. All of these factors, and many more, contribute to distracted, dangerous drivers.

    As far as a law banning texting and driving, this may not be the answer, and the reality of it is, laws like these are rarely enforced. And just because the law is created banning texting and driving, those who really want to text and drive will continue to do so. It really boils down to that there are simply not enough police patrolling the roads looking for these sorts of things; although in my daily drive to school, I seem to see many of them dealing with accidents along the freeway. The other concern is exactly how much to we want the government interfering with our lives? The government is not our parent, and creating a law banning texting and driving is not necessarily the answer to this particular problem. What exactly the answer is, I don’t know.

  3. I work at a driving school and this is an important aspect that is thought to the students. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds, and 77% of teen crashes involve avoidable driver errors. This is a public health concern and the government should be able to regulate it. If a cop sees a person texting or talking on their phone, they should be ticketed. There have been an increase in the pressure that people have been putting on the states to make this law that effect, partly do to campaigns like these and raised awareness.

    In addition, society need to make texting and driving unacceptable. If a guy texts while I am in a car with him, that relationship won’t be going anywhere because my life is way more important than your phone. Parents also have to take responsibility and set a good example for their children. My mom constantly texts and drives with my brother in the car and it is completely unacceptable… just because a person is an experienced driver does not mean that they are able to text and drive safely (no one can!).

  4. I don’t think anyone is about to comment on here and tell you that texting and driving is acceptable. It’s not, and we all know it. We know the statistics, we know the consequences, and we still do it. Why? Because we’re teenagers and we think we’re invincible. It’s the same reason there are teenagers who still — for some reason I won’t ever understand — think drinking and driving is acceptable too. Again, we know the statistics, we know the consequences, and yet we think we’re invincible, so we do it anyway.

    So how do we stop it? I completely support all efforts in cracking down on DUI’s. Make it a felony? Great. But I don’t think cracking down on texting and driving, much less talking and driving, is going to get us anywhere. For starters, there aren’t enough police to control who’s doing what on which gadget? “Texting, officer? No, I was changing my music. I was looking at the map. I was calling my mother.” Our phones do everything for us anymore, and we can’t possibly try to make it a law to turn off our cell phones when we get in the car. Further, we are entirely dependent on our hand held gadgets. Cars themselves are even coming equip with bells and whistles and the latest and greatest of the twenty-first century. Radio shows even offer to send you traffic updates…VIA TEXT!! People are all up in arms about texting and driving, but the technology-centric universe that we live in practically forces us to be connected all the time.

    Choosing not to text and drive is just that — a choice. Just like choosing not to drink and drive is a choice. Sure, the repercussions when it comes to the law are greater when you choose to drink and drive, but the risk is surely the same.

    I think AT&T’s driving mode is a fantastic idea. It allows for you to not be so tempted when your text message notification goes off, but it allows for a technological disconnect to remain a choice.

    You’re not going to get anything but an outrage if you try to mandate how we use technology in our cars. Spread the word, sign the pledge, but don’t make it a law.

  5. Pingback: Is mobile technology making us more anxious? | SOC334 Technology and Society

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