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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Distracted Driving

Student Name

Professor’s Name

Criminal Justice 1010

10 October 2018

Distracted Driving

            Imagine being so addicted to a piece of technology that you’re willing to use it while operating a two-ton machine going up to, or over 55 mph, simultaneously threatening your own life and the lives of everyone around you. This is the reality of a majority of the drivers on the road who use a cell phone while driving, putting everyone at risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “sending or reading a text that takes your eyes off the road for even five seconds, at 55 mph that’s like driving the length of an entire football field”. Texting and driving is just one of the many ways to drive distracted. Distracted driving can include eating behind the wheel, talking on the phone, fiddling with the built-in car devices, drinking (alcohol or not), and even talking to passengers. All of these examples cause a person’s attention to be diverted from the road. However, texting and driving could be considered the most dangerous, right behind driving under the influence. It is also quite selfish, not only to the distracted driver themself, but to all other drivers on the road as well. It’s basically indicating that sending a text message is more important than anyone’s life. Texting and driving has been a growing issue in the past decade, and it needs to come to an end.

Distracted driving can be categorized in three ways: Visual, Manual, and Cognitive. Visual distraction is whenever the driver takes their eyes off the road. Manual distraction is when the driver takes their hands off the wheel. Cognitive distraction is any time the driver has taken their mind off of driving. Texting and driving involves all three of these distractions: eyes on phone, phone in hand, and thinking about contents on phone. Once again though, texting and driving is not the only way to drive distracted. It could be a lady fishing through her purse to find something, or anybody fiddling with the built-in navigation system. According to the website highwaysafety.uta.gov, in 2016, there were 281 fatal crashes involving distracted drivers in Utah. Moreover, that number has risen 9% in the last decade. This shows the growing carelessness of drivers on the road. They seem to feel confident enough about their driving, then they don’t realize they’re putting themself at risk, as well as everyone around them. Or if they do realize the risk then they’re voluntarily being reckless. It also comes with a misconception about multitasking. As humans, naturally, we cannot multitask the way we think we can. The brain is able to quickly switch between tasks, but it cannot do two things at the same time. As stated by the Utah Department of Public Safety, “The activity area in the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to one-third when talking on a phone”. Proving that even the most skilled drivers don’t have some sort of super-power brain allowing them to multitask, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves or their peers. According to the CDC website on distracted driving, in 2015, United States’ distracted driver crashes took more than 3,400 lives. The fear of hurting oneself or another person should be enough motivation to focus on the road.

What is being done to prevent these crashes? In 2017, texting while driving was banned in 46 states (CDC.gov). However, even with the laws put into place, there are still too many people in the world who don’t respect them. The true prevention of this epidemic lies within the self-control of the millions of drivers in the country. Every single driver should have enough control to leave their phone out of sight, out of reach, and on silent so the ring doesn’t tempt them to grab it. Even cell phone companies have added an “I’m Driving” feature on to various types of phones, yet, how many people actually use it? In fact, I found more google searches on how to turn that feature off, rather than statistics on how many people use the feature. It is a selfish act to care more about sending a message than getting to a destination safely. Granted, it’s unfair to assume that every single driver on the roads use their cell phone while driving. However, the fact that anyone does it is the problem. According to an article about texting and driving on Standard.net, “Lt. Dirk Quinney, a patrol lieutenant with the North Ogden Police Department, said…he often observes people texting while driving a few times a day, but police don’t issue many citations for the offense”. This shows a lack of control not only with the drivers but with the police department as well. However, the article goes on to say that the only way to issue a citation is to have definitive proof, and in the case of texting and driving, it’s more difficult to prove without a confession. A possible solution to this could be adding more cameras on cop cars. Not just a dash cam but also a side window camera to capture drivers in action using their cell phone. This way the cop has proof of the crime and can issue a citation which will hopefully motivate people to quit driving distracted. Utah Highway Patrol conducted an operation to crack down on distracted drivers. Fox13Now stated that “three spotters and a driver loaded up in an unmarked, black, 16-passenger van.” They cruised down I-80, I-15, and I-215 prowling for distracted driving offenders. From the operation, 58 traffic stops were made, 25 citations issued and 9 warnings. This is a good step to cracking down on distracted driving, if people aren’t scared of killing themselves or another, they’ll have to be scared by a citation.

A common misconception is that the younger generations are mostly guilty of this crime. However, a survey done by TeenSafe.com, in June of 2018, found that “69% of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 admitted to using their cell phone while driving, during the previous month”. This statistic proves that it isn’t just the younger generations guilty of using their phone while driving. The offenders of this crime seem to be blind to the gravity of this nationwide issue. How many lives will be lost until this problem diminishes? It’s evident that even law enforcement can’t crack down on it as much as desired. All types of distracted driving need to be addressed and squashed. Drivers need to take more responsibility for their actions and be patient enough to wait to send that text or make that phone call. Solving this nationwide problem will take effort and self-control from every single driver on the road. Everyone needs to gain some compassion for each other, quit driving distracted, put the phones down and focus on the road.

Works Cited

andrew.currin.ctr@dot.gov. “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” NHTSA, 4 Sept. 2018, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.

 

“Motor Vehicle Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 June 2017, www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html.

 

Scholl, Jacob. “Police Say Texting-and-Driving Laws Are Hard to Enforce, Data Affirms.” Standard Examiner, 30 Mar. 2018, www.standard.net/police-fire/police-say-texting-and-driving-laws-are-hard-to-enforce/artIcle_457a013c-74ed-5121-86a8-b71d3d24488f.html.

 

“Texting and Driving Crashes Facts and Statistics.” TeenSafe, 5 July 2018, www.teensafe.com/blog/texting-and-driving-crashes-facts-and-statistics/.

 

“Utah Department of Public Safety.” DPS – Highway Safety, highwaysafety.utah.gov/other-focus-areas/distracteddriving/.

 

Vaifanua, Tamara. “UHP Cracks down on Distracted Drivers in Latest Operation.” fox13now.Com, 27 June 2018, fox13now.com/2018/06/27/uhp-cracks-down-on-distracted-drivers-in-latest-operation/.

 

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