Effects of Mobile Phone Distraction on Driving in the United States Analysis

by Jason Shaw

Distracted Driving in the United States

Distracted driving affects our lives in many ways. Many times it results in fatal accidents where precious lives are lost. There are numerous factors which cause a distraction while driving. Few of these distractions include eating, texting, talking on mobile phones, talking to other passengers in the vehicle, watching videos, handling music players and looking at different objects while driving. Survey and reports have proved that texting is more dangerous than any other form of distraction. Various laws and legislations have been implemented in different states of the U.S., but this remains an uphill task for the states. Various new recommendations and options are coming up in the shape of laws. Slowly and gradually, this problem will be overcome by introducing safety measures and educating youngsters.

There have been incidents of mobile usage that resulted in the loss of lives. There was a high school girl Alex Brown who lost her life to texting while driving. So her parents are eager to create awareness of texting while driving after losing their daughter. Her parents have made a website for educating people on distractions caused by texting while driving (“Remember Alex Brown Foundation”).

Effects of Mobile Phone Distraction on Driving in the United States Analysis

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Chirping mobile phones are less expected to make flying dangerous. It endangers the lives of other onboard passengers. Comparatively, the danger is more on the ground, and these electronic devices have killed people on the roads. Chatting drivers are prone to a crash four times according to the transport department. If we compare the reaction of a drunk alcohol driver with a driver using a mobile phone, then the distraction from a cell phone using driver slows and equals to a legally intoxicated individual (Carlson).

He was texting while driving is more dangerous than texting while driving. Looking down on any object or receiving and sending messages during driving is foolish. A driver takes his eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds when sending or reading a text message, according to research conducted at the Virginia Tech Institute. At this time, driver reaches the length of a 55 mph football pitch (Carlson).

If we observe the handling of mobile phone while driving, then it is clear that it attracts the total attention of drier. While reading the text it catches visual attraction. There is physical interruption as you keep the phone in your hand and intellectual interruption as you concentrate on the content that you see on the screen. And the driver takes care of himself (Simon).

Today the number one reason for auto accidents is distracted driving. The percentage has touched the alarming stage in the recent past. Distracted driving has become the number one issue about road driving safety. Transportation secretary named distracted driving as “epidemic”. Now Toyota motors are spending about 50 million U.S. dollars on research on issues associated with distracted driving. They called it “growing cause of accidents.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released some facts and figures at the end of the conference, which shows that more than 5800 people died and about 515000 were injured last year due to distracted driving. Other studies show that technological advancement has proven to be a significant factor in traffic accidents (O’ Donnell).

Statistics also show that texting has become the most accurate and very famous form of communication. People send or receive about 110 billion text messages per month. According to a survey, about 11 per cent of teens have admitted the habit of texting during driving. Another reason for the popularity of texting is that it is abridged. That is why drivers believe it is the quickest form of communication from behind the wheels. Studies do not confirm this mindset. First, it is proved that how exposed one is to an accident while texting during driving. Even at a slower speed, the risk of an accident is high (O’ Donnell).

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) has gathered data regarding fatal accidents occurred on the roads of the U.S. from 1999 to 2008. In this reporting system, various trends regarding distracting driving fatalities have been analyzed. The rate of deaths declined from 1995 to 2005, but an increase of 28 per cent was observed after that.  The number of deaths was increased from 4572 to 5870 in 2008. Majority of accidents took place in urban areas where mostly male drivers were driving lonely. The crashes occurred by hitting the obstructions placed on the roads. Now the most deadly is texting while driving, about 16000 additional deaths occurred from 2001 to 2007. Therefore it is evident that the popularity of texts became the reason for the rising rate of fatalities in the U.S. in the first decade of the century. Quality of road fatalities increased after 2005, and the same was the case with messages. In 2010, measures were taken to ban texting while driving as it had already resulted in fatal accidents in the U.S. (Wilson 2214).

The fast-spreading popularity of mobile devices has challenged the road safety measures in the U.S. Now awareness is coming in people regarding distractions involved in driving due to mobile phone usage. Mobile usage is resulting in injuries and deaths in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released the report of 2010. According to a report, 18 per cent of the fatal crashes happened due to distracted driving. This 18 per cent includes the killing of 3092 people and injuries to about 416000 individuals. According to a survey, about 40 per cent of American teens have confirmed mobile usage by drivers who have put the lives of road users in danger. Virginia tech transportation institute reported that distraction caused by texting during driving is approximately 23 times more as compared to driving without any distractions. It is a fact that teens are the major users of mobile in the U.S. They become almost 11 per cent of the total road users in the U.S. who faced accidents due to distractions. Either they were receiving or sending texts when they crashed (Genachowski).

Now there is another factor which needs due attention, and that is eating while driving. People love to eat while driving. People are not reluctant to avoid fiddling with CD players and playing with their kids and pets while driving. Talking to other passengers has become the nature of drivers while driving. Looking at other passengers while driving is equally dangerous as texting itself is because if one takes his eyes off while driving for 2 seconds, then it may turn into a crash. Laws regarding other distractions are also need of the time to reduce the number of collisions on the roads (Copeland).

Mostly males and females do not have any idea that they are being distracted while driving, and it is hazardous for their lives. For example, if someone gets into his or her car for going to the office, there is no intention to take risk while driving. One tries to drive safely, but it is not noticed that in a few minutes, one has checked makeup in the mirror, tuned car radio by completely taking eyes off from the road. You have adjusted your GPS according to requirement, you have called somebody from your mobile and at the same time you have sent and received messages. One may not realize all this, but it is distracted driving (Johnson 28).

Road users typically do not realize the speed at which they are travelling, and even the distraction of microseconds puts how much danger to the lives of road users. Even if a driver takes his eyes off the road for the split of a second, he is putting his and the lives of other road users in extreme danger. Distracted driving resulted in a loss of 5500 precious lives and injuring 450000 road users in 2009 in the country.  All the crashes are not correctly documented due to various reasons; otherwise, the figure may rise to a more alarming stage. The real situation is worse then what is mostly shown in surveys and reports (Johnson 28).

Road traffic crashes are becoming a rising concern for the complete world. Various sorts of distractions are resulting in approximately 1.3 million deaths annually in the world. Common factors of accidents are over speeding, alcohol addiction and violation of traffic rules and nonuse of helmets. Health style survey carried out a study in 2011 on distracted driving in various countries including Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom (U.K.), and the United States. In this survey data regarding reading or sending texts during driving was calculated. Now the frequency of text messages in a month in different countries shows that among drivers ages 18 to 64 was 21 per cent in the U.K. and 69 per cent in the U.S. The drivers who sent or received emails and messages in Spain are 15 per cent and 21 per cent in Portugal and U.S. Many issues are of nature which can be easily addressed. The other risky driving behaviour comprises of not fastening seat belts and driving being drunk. People can be educated on these issues to minimize the risk factor. Mobile use while driving again needs to warn people about the significant outcome of these practices. Modern technologies can be analyzed for their effectiveness to overcome the trouble of distracted driving (Naumann et al.).

Various rules and legislations have been passed to control mobile usage by road users. Mobile use while driving again needs to warn people about the significant outcome of these practices. Voice powered technology in California has been legalized for road users to promote hands-free texting and e-mail sending. This bill is going to be a massive victory for road users. Now drivers will be able to communicate safely and with responsibility while using the roads in the U.S. About 15 different types of bills were passed concerning insurance and driver’s safety. According to the bill, people will not be allowed to operate electronic wireless operated devices unless they have the technology of hands-free and voice-operated in the device (Coldewey).

USDOT has convinced the authorities and introduced new ways to tackle the problem of mobile usage from behind the wheels. Secretary LaHood very confidently uttered that we are endeavouring to overcome distracted driving by amending laws, introducing technologically advanced devices and carrying out research. The department warned the drivers of substantial commercial trucks who text while driving. The department announced that such violators would face civil and criminal penalties and legal action will be taken against such individuals. The department took another step by announcing those bus drivers and illegal usage of electronic devices while driving is strictly prohibited.  School bus drivers if found texting while driving will be deprived off their commercial licenses (Leone 1).

Congress passed a bill in which authority is given to the police for stopping drivers from texting during driving. Congress also released funds for this purpose. It is pertinent to mention that it was the first bill in which funding was offered and many states applied for the grant to curb the tendency of distracted driving in U.S. Rules for banning texting already existed in many countries. But fewer states only controlled the texting from mobile phones and other devices were still operative. That is why such states were deprived of funding until the complete banning of texting (Copeland).

Police have become very active to enforce distracted driving laws. Such efforts include enforcement of the law as a standard for all. Distracted driving awareness month is also organized once in a year to create awareness (“States Boosting Efforts against Distracted Driving: Report” 1).

There are multiple ways to eliminate phone usage from vehicles. One is to install no texting applications on the phone. The moment vehicle moves, applications available send calls to voice mail and silence texts. Certain applications allow parents to stop teen cellphone service when they are driving. Such applications are easily accessible at software stores, and these are also available in new mobile sets (“New Approaches to End Texting While Driving”).

Glass, Gary G. Howell, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, thinks that Google glasses usage during driving causes distraction and it should be banned. He is introducing a bill for prohibiting the use of glasses during driving. He said that usage of glass is as dangerous during driving as texting itself is (Newman).

HB 546 recommends prohibition of cellphone usage while driving. The bill was forwarded in 2011 during a legislative session. This will help to keep mobile users away from their phones while driving. Fine of 100 US$ will be charged from person violating the law in the U.S. Initially, when a call is attended, speed gets slower, but if call continues then speed also starts increasing which is quite alarming (Newman).

Distracted driving is being fixed by different laws. Violating drivers have to face criminal penalties in Utah. States are banning texting while driving, but Wilson and Stimpson believe that it is an uphill task. Car manufacturers are making cars more sophisticated by using technology to overcome the distracted driving. Navigational aids and blue tooth are being installed to help drivers. Voice devices are a step in this direction. Simple precautionary measures which everybody can follow will help to overcome distraction. If you are in a car, you must focus on the road and should not look at your electronic devices. Even if messages are there on the mobile device, one can see them on reaching a destination (Sparks 5).

Mobile usage during driving has become very risky for people travelling in a vehicle. Reading and sending texts is more dangerous than talking to someone while driving. The distraction caused by texting is immense than any other distraction. Millions of lives have been lost, and injuries are even more. The U.S. has taken some stern actions to cut this rising trouble. Numerous laws and legislations have been passed to control the usage of cellphone while driving. States have been successful to some extent to educate people to avoid the use of mobile in a vehicle. If we have to save the lives of our citizen, then we have to inform teens and have to encourage them for safe driving. Safety measures taken time to time will help to reduce distraction substantially in future.

Works Cited
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