Texting and Driving Essay

Over-consumption is one of the most detrimental things to society today. The United States as a whole is a prime leader in over-consumption. Consumption to a certain degree is acceptable and is somewhat expected in a society where everything is as fast paced as it is in the U. S. The consumption topic that I am choosing to analyze is the overuse of technology. I am not arguing that technology is detrimental to society. In fact, I believe that technology has allowed the U. S. to make a great leap forward in establishing itself as a worldwide leader.

What I am arguing, rather, is that the overuse of technology is detrimental to society. The overuse of technology can be detrimental to society in very miniscule ways which does not pose a threat to the livelihood of any individuals. In some cases, however, this overuse of technology can prove to be deadly. More exclusively, I am choosing to analyze the dangers of driving while text messaging. Because of peoples need for fast information and easier ways to communicate, text messaging has become extremely popular within the past decade.

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Text message use has steadily increased each and every year since the technology has been invented. According to the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, text message use has increased almost 50% from June 2009 to June 2011(CTIA 2011). This number is increasing every month. Along with this increasing trend of text messaging, we are also seeing an increase in driving fatalities directly related to texting while driving. I hypothesize that texting while driving is directly related to an increase in driving fatalities on roadways.

The data and research which I have collected and included in the latter parts of this paper will provide proof that texting while driving causes an increase in driving fatalities on U. S. roadways. Most scholars have come to the consensus that texting while driving is a negative thing for the health of drivers. They also agree that texting while driving is not only detrimental to the person who is engaging in this dangerous driving practice, but also to innocent drivers who may be affected negatively by another drivers choice to text while driving.

In my research I found out that no scholars tried to make an argument for the positive aspects of texting while driving. Thus, the literature on the subject has to do with the negative aspects of texting while driving. Nina Dragutinovic tells us that her findings have revealed a large amount of drivers, between (60 to 70 %) acknowledge that they use their cell phone while driving (Dragutinovic 2005). This statistic is very surprising to me because I do not understand why so many people would choose to engage in such an activity when they are well aware of the dangers associated with it.

Dragutinovic also goes on to estimate that at any one point during the day, 1 to 4% of drivers on the road are using their mobile phones (Dragutinovic 2005). Dragutinovic outlines two areas in which drivers can be distracted. She cites physical and cognitive distractions which are directly related to texting while driving. The physical part of the distraction has to do with the operator of a vehicle being physically handicapped by driving because of their use of a cellphone. The cognitive part of the distraction has to do with the driver being distracted mentally by their conversation that they are partaking in.

She goes on to further explain that the “complexity of the phone conversation is the important factor that also determines the extent of the effect of the phone conversation on driving performance” (http://www. swov. nl/rapport/r-2005-12. pdf, 2005)) Because of these distractions, Dragutinovic has pointed out that drivers using a cell phone are four times as likely to get into an accident as drivers who are not using a cell phone while driving. Some may argue that a hands free cell phone device can be a safe alternative for this problem.

Others disagree with this alternative. One of the opponents to this is David Strayer from the University of Utah. Strayer has conducted numerous experiments in which he has come to the conclusion that hands free cellular devices is not a safe alternative. In a 2001 experiment, he observed that drivers who were engaged in hands free, and non-hands free cell phone conversations missed twice as many simulated traffic signals as when they were not talking on a phone (Strayer 2005). Even when they did notice the traffic signals, it took them longer to react to them.

He observed that there were no difference in reaction time between hands free and non-hands free cell phone users. Drivers were observed to process 50% less information in their driving environment compared to drivers who were not engaged in cell phone conversations (Strayer 2005). Analyzing these two scholars arguments have further cemented my belief that text messaging while driving is negative to the safety of drivers and causes an increase in accidents because of the distraction that comes with using a cell phone. During my research I came across a lot of interesting data. The data that I am going to rely on is ainly data concerning accidents which came as a result of distracted driving because of text messaging. The first bit of data which I will put on the table is from a study done by Donald Redelmeir and Robert Tibshirani in 1997. In this study, they analyzed cell phone records from 699 people who were involved in accidents during a 14 month span. The amount of drivers who were shown to have used their cell phone within 10 minutes of the accident was astounding to me. Almost 25% of people were observed to have used their phones within ten minutes of the crash (Redlemeir and Tibshirani, 1997).

This data backs up the claim of Dragutinovic that there are cognitive repercussions from cell phone use that can contribute to lack of focus being displayed by drivers who had used their cell phones. The findings in the study that was done by Redelmeir and Tibshirani have been corroborated by many other studies that have been done in recent years. One study that corroborated these findings was a study done by the National Safety Council in 2010. This study estimated that “28% of all incidents and fatalities on U. S. highways were caused by drivers using cell phones” (Teens Aware of Texting Dangers, Yet Carry On, 2011).

Because of my research on this topic, this estimate does not surprise me. According to the Official U. S. Government Website on Distracted Driving, sending a text message can cause a driver to be distracted from the road for 4. 6 seconds (www. distraction. gov, 2012). During these 4. 6 seconds, a car can travel the length of a football field. With the driver being distracted for such a long length of time, it is no wonder that so many accidents happen because of this distracted driving. In my research I realized that one possible reason why so many people choose to text while driving is due to new advancements of text message technology.

Consumers are always looking for more efficient ways to consume technology, and text message technology is no different. This ties in directly with the theme of consumption we have discussed so far this semester in class. One example of technology consumption is the implementation of new texting technologies. Examples of new texting technologies include the QWERTY style keyboard and T9 texting. Both of these technologies can lead consumers to believe that texting while driving is okay for them to do because of the ease of texting these two technologies allow.

What consumers don’t realize is that just because there are new technologies out there in regards to texting, it doesn’t make consumers immune to the dangers of texting while driving. The research I gathered on the subject was very surprising to me. I did not realize that so many drivers participated in such a dangerous activity while driving. I understood that texting while driving was a problem, but I didn’t realize the breadth of the issue until I examined research on the subject more.

It was somewhat upsetting to me to come to the conclusion that many accidents could be avoided simply by abstaining from cell phone use while driving. It is sad to note that many drivers will not change their reckless texting while driving behavior until an incident occurs which negatively impacts the driver or someone the driver knows because of texting while driving. Although the research I examined on the topic allowed me to further understand the dangers of texting while driving, there is more to the subject that I would like to explore.

All of the research focuses strictly on proving the negatives of texting while driving. I would like to see research which tries to prove that there can be a safer way to text and drive. Although this research may be controversial because it is encouraging a way to get around a law, I feel like it would be an important thing for people to research in the future. Texting while driving is a trend that is not going to stop anytime soon, especially with the new texting technologies that are coming out each and every year.

To try and combat this growing technology, there needs to be research on safer ways to text and drive. Although it would still be illegal to text and drive, people could look at the new research and choose to text and drive at a much safer level. This research could end up saving a lot of lives because if people aren’t going to stop texting while driving, at least they can do it in the safest way possible. Another area of research that I would like to see done in the future has to do with ways in which cars could somehow prevent people from texting while driving.

People who have been convicted of Driving Under the Influence have to take a breathalyzer test before starting their vehicle. I am wondering whether or not research can be done on this topic which could somehow apply the same principle towards texting while driving. It would be interesting to find out if there can be a device that could be made which could do just that. A possible device could be a machine which you would have to place your phone in before you started driving. If your phone became disconnected from this device, your car could stop. This could possibly be n excellent way to deter drivers from texting while driving. Ultimately, this new technology could save lives each and every year on U. S. roadways.

References Cited

http://www. swov. nl/rapport/r-2005-12. pdf – use of mobile phones while driving “Teens Aware Of Texting Dangers, Yet Carry On. ” Professional Safety 56. 12 (2011): 18. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. www. ctia. org http://www. nsc. org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/Analysis%20of%20the%20Literature,%20The%20Use%20of%20Mobile%20Phones%20While%20Driving. pdf www. distraction. gov