Using Cell Phones While Driving
Every new invention comes with its own set of prophets of doom. When electricity was still a curious oddity, people were convinced that it would cause the deaths of nearly anyone who came into regular contact with it. Now we know that there are ways to use it safely to make those risks less likely to occur. Similarly, automobiles allow people to work long distances from their homes and cell phones allow people to remain in contact with people who are a long distance away. Unfortunately, both of these inventions require the user’s attention and can cause tragedy when used together for the reasons stated below.
A ringing cell phone is intended to make its owner want to stop whatever he or she is doing and attend to it. Even the familiar vibration sounds will attract the attention of a driver. Those with the will power may be able to ignore this but it is just as simple for someone who thinks they have total control behind the wheel to stop looking at the road and instead try to locate the ringing phone. If it is trapped in a pocket or at the bottom of a purse this can lead to one or both hands being occupied in the search and tragedy can occur.
Aside from ringing, cell phones pose another serious risk to drivers who talk on them while behind the wheel. A particularly interesting or aggravating conversation may occupy most or all of the driver’s attention. Even though they seem to be looking in front of them, their thoughts may be on the person with whom they are conversing. This can reduce reaction times or even lead to diminished peripheral vision.
Perhaps the most dangerous thing a person can do while driving is to attempt to send a text message. This requires both the hands and the eyes so the driver is diverting two resources from a task that should not be taken lightly to one that could be put off for later. Over the past few decades many people have been killed or maimed in accidents caused like this. Entire campaigns have sprung up to convince people, especially teenagers not to text while driving and to persuade their friends and loved ones to do the same.
As dangerous as driving while intoxicated is, the very real problem of cell phone use on the road cannot be ignored. As phones become more integrated in our lives, the rate of accidents is likely to grow.
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