Last updated on January 28th, 2019 at 01:25 pm
People used to smoke cigarettes to pass the time (among other things). Now, the temptation is to whip out our smartphones if we’re stuck waiting at a red light or for a friend who’s late. We’ve got a new (digital) addiction, and it’s arguably just as dangerous as past vices that are now taboo.
We’ve written many times about the dangers of texting while driving (TWD) and even texting while walking (TWW), an epidemic that’s spawned this hilarious video from Improv Everywhere:
It’s personal. Are we a little obsessive? Well, the reason we write about the dangers of texting and driving so much is because it’s so prevalent, and it’s becoming harder and harder to avoid.
In fact, NHTSA data point to TWD being six times more dangerous than drunk driving, and makes you 23 times more likely to have a crash. If the average text takes about 5 seconds to type, at 55 mph that’s the equivalent of traveling with your eyes shut for the length of an entire football field. Yikes.
It’s epidemic. According to a study by the consulting firm McKinsey, 35 percent of people admit to using their smartphones while driving. Do your own informal survey on a busy city street and the number will seem much higher than 35 percent. How scary is that?
It’s underestimated. On a national level, distracted driving deaths are also vastly underreported—leading people to underestimate the scope of Americans’ deadly TWD addiction.
Most police accident reports don’t record or track cellphone use as a cause or result of a crash, and many states require police to get a subpoena to get cellphone records. As a result, national crash statistics about actual cellphone use in accidents are inaccurate.
The no-TWD laws we have on the books now are practically impossible to enforce, especially without a total ban prohibiting handheld cellphone use while driving. Laws that require drivers go “hands-free” and use a head set, speaker phone, or voice dialing would make it much easier to spot lawbreakers, and make it safer for everyone on the road. While a hands-free law passed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives twice, it failed to get enough votes in the Senate.
Multitasking is not a sport. When everyone’s fixated on their smartphone screens instead of the real world unfolding in front of them, accidents happen—and insurance companies hate accidents. We know you do, too.
And even though accidents do occur, why not take one simple precaution to avoid them in the first place? Put your phone away when you’re driving, or when you’re walking, cycling, and unless it’s urgent, when you’re with your kids—they’re watching you! They deserve your full attention—and so do the people around you, especially when you’re driving.
This isn’t the last time we’ll say it, but: Don’t be tempted by that little screen. Put that phone down when you get in the car. Please.
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