Are "Texting Zones" the answer to the issue of texting and driving?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Smartphones make multitasking a heck of a lot easier than they used to be. We have so many applications now that you can almost do anything on your phone that you could do on a PC. It's pretty insane how far we've come, and I know I mention it a lot, but sometimes I think we take for granted just how far technology has advanced in just a few short years. Instead of only being able to talk to somebody over the phone or in person, we have the option to make video calls, IM and of course text. Texting and IMing are particularly useful because you can carry on a conversation while multitasking, but that doesn't always mean that people use the best judgment on when it is or isn't appropriate to take advantage of such a useful method of communication.
Texting and driving was once pretty much ignored as a major contributing factor to car accidents. I mean, when you see an accident on the highway your first thought probably wasn't "They were probably texting," because texting seems like such a harmless activity. It's not like drinking or being on drugs where the state of your mind is altered. You're typing a word or two, so yeah, it might seem like it would be an easy enough task to handle as long as the road seemed clear of all potential hazards. Of course, in retrospect, that's not how driving works at all. Maybe you overlooked that person who was told that it was safe to cross the street, or that person that was angry at you for dawdling along the side of the road and decided to be a total jackwagon and cut you off. The point is, unexpected things happen when you're driving and if you're paying more attention to the text that you're sending than the road, you're probably gonna have a bad time.
It's a more recognized issue now, especially with AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign. Studies and reports have shown that texting and driving can sometimes even hinder a driver worse off than if they had been drinking, but good luck trying to convince the entire world that something as simple as texting is as dangerous (or worse) than altering your entire state of mind. Simply put, you're not going to be able to get everybody to listen to you when you say that a text isn't important, and if it is that important, pull over to the side of the road to answer it. But really, who wants to take the time to pull over to the side of the road when it will only take a few minutes to answer a text message while driving?
A new initiative in New York is trying to show people just how important it is to pull over and read or send a text when driving rather than keep on keeping on. The new intiative opened up 91 different locations off of New York's major highways that allow drivers to pull over and read or respond to text messages, hopefully showing people that if the state feels the need to implement these stations that perhaps it's a bigger issue than some people think. The only question is, will it actually work?
Honestly, I think that if people haven't already stopped texting and driving that these text stops aren't going to make them stop doing it any time soon. The $150 fee for being caught plus the 5 points deducted off of their driving record for texting and driving in New York seems like it would be a lot more effective than implementing signs for texting stops. I mean technically, that's what people have been advised to do all along: stop somewhere before reading or responding. So far, it hasn't exactly done wonders for the issue. But although you can't stop everybody from texting and driving, perhaps these signs can help boost awareness in the issue.
Texting and driving is a very real issue that I've seen negatively impact a few personal friends' lives, almost equal to the amount of friends who I have seen affected by drunk driving. I am glad to see that people are starting to realize just how big of an issue texting and driving really is, I just wish people could realize how easy it is to prevent it being an issue anymore in the first place.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the Texting Zones? Do you think they will help bring awareness to drivers about how important it is to stop before dealing with texts, or do you think they're just a waste of time and money? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments!
Images via CNet, AT&T