The use of cell phones while driving has long been a standard issue with the law and drivers. It is widely considered to be a dangerous practice to use a phone while driving for the obvious reason that it detracts from your concentration and means you are more likely to cause an accident as a result. Internationally, a lot of countries have begun to make using a cell phone while driving an illegal act, however in the US, it is only several states who have fully banned the activity. More states have implemented more specific laws such as novice drivers and school bus drivers as not being allowed to use their phone at the same time. I am in agreement with these laws and feel that they need to be implemented across the country because of the amount of accidents they would prevent.
In January 2010, the Washington Post published a story citing that 28% of car accidents involve talking or texting on cell phones. That percentage breaks down into 1.4 million accidents as a result of talking on the phone, and 200,000 as a result of texting. An important part of safe driving is to be attentive, focused and to have both hands on the wheel. If you are texting or are on the phone then you are not succeeding in driving safely. A lot of people assume that the act of driving is an automatic action in the brain, however it is proven that vigilance while driving is vitally important as these this is not always the case: it is estimated that 50% of road accidents in the US are caused by inattentiveness. When questioned, the driver often cites the reason as being because they were chatting to a friend or talking on a cell phone. The laws are in place for a reason: to protect the driver, pedestrians and other drivers. The government does not implement laws because they just want to ruin everyone’s fun, it is for our protection and as such, they should be adhered.
The Police have reported that they will find it extremely difficult to police a texting ban, if and when it becomes implemented. As it is an activity that often takes place in someone’s lap or below window level, it is difficult to see what someone is doing. Supposedly, signal blocking technology will eventually make it easier to control the cell phone activity of an individual in their car but until then, it is a difficult exercise to carry out. This makes it all the more important for the message to be well known: do not text and drive. While some people may choose to ignore this message, it is also law to murder, rape and steal and yet the vast majority of people manage to go through life without doing these things. Why should people choose to ignore the laws concerning their cell phone use while in their car? It is important that people heed the law and obey it through their own choice as the Police will struggle to catch every offender in this instance. It should be seen as being as important as not drinking and driving; if anything, it should be viewed as being more important as most people text more than they drink.
Some say that the use of a hands free kit while in the car, helps to eliminate the danger that the cell phone provides. However, according to the Washington Post, there have been more than 120 studies that have concluded that while hands free kits do increase the driver’s control of the car in terms of having both hands in use; the use of a phone in any capacity still does not eliminate the distraction that a phone call gives. Arguably, the same can be said for listening to loud music while driving, however the emotional reaction that a phone call can use is still a far greater distraction than music. It has been proven that simply by using a cell phone while driving, you are raising your chances of an accident to a comparable level of that as when you have alcohol in your blood stream. During a particular study by Strayer and Johnston, it was discovered that people who use a cell phone while driving miss twice as many red lights and when the red light was spotted and the braking action was engaged, the driver’s reaction was a lot slower than it should be.
Further studies suggest that the use of a cell phone while driving not only limits your reactions, you literally fail to spot signs and objects in the road through a sort of ‘inattention blindness’ and as a result, you fail to remember these details too. Behaviour like that would cause you to fail your driving test and therefore is not acceptable in day to day life. It is agreed that any in-car conversation can lead to a lack of attention and can increase the chance of an accident; however the effects of cell phone use seem to be particularly harmful. Driving requires your full attention and you should not allow yourself to be distracted in any way, whether that’s chatting to a friend who is in the car with you, listening to loud music, or talking and texting on your cell phone.
The evidence is undeniably conclusive: using your cell phone (be it texting or talking) is an extremely dangerous activity to undertake. It causes you to be distracted, inattentive and it increases your chances of having or causing an accident. In a lot of states, it is already law to use your cell phone while driving and in those states, drivers must uphold the law or risk receiving the punishment. In the other states where there are no or limited laws concerning the use of cell phones, it is up to the driver of the car to act responsibly: a not unreasonable request of a person who is supposedly old enough and mature enough to have passed their driving test and purchased a car. Using a cell phone while driving can cause accidents (often fatal ones) and will cause you to have to pay for your car to be fixed, possibly appear in court and, if you live in one of the pertinent states, it may mean the loss of your license and a possible jail sentence. The result of this discussion is that if the activity does not have any link to driving your car, it should not be taking place right there and then.
Brooks, C. I. & Church, M. A. (2009). How Psychology Applies To Everyday Life. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Halsey, A. (2010). 28 Percent of Accidents Involve Talking, Texting on Cell Phones. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/12/AR2010011202218.html
Nairne, J. S. (2009). Psychology. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.