You don't have to put on the red light,
those days are over,
you don't have to sell your body to the night,
Or the road.
According to the Cohen's Children's Medical Center of New York, texting and driving has just surpassed drunk driving as the leading cause of death in teenagers behind the wheel. Last year, more than 3,000 teens died as a result of sending and receiving SMS messages.
But let's not kid ourselves. Texting is not the only way we lose focus behind the wheel.
My teenage years might be distancing themselves from me, but I certainly remember times when I'd pull out my phone and send a picture, or like a Facebook post. Yet in today's world, there are many more avenues within a smartphone to get distracted by. Texting while behind the wheel is only half the story.
Whether I am on the highway, or moseying around town, my smartphone is never far away me. I haven't been "disconnected" in the past 10 years of my life. It's been a state of reality. I'm not going to lie to you and say that I have never glanced at my smartphone behind the wheel. Likewise, sending a text is the least of concerns when you consider everything else we can be doing on our devices. This generation has much more to be wary of than a second's loss of attention to the road because of an incoming text or picture message.
My actions behind the wheel have shaped my attitude towards driving. I've been in many accidents with the worst of them being my fault, but unrelated to my smartphone. Since then, driving has become a competition about focusing on the road. To me, it's a challenge to remain in control of my surroundings at all times.
And lately, my surroundings have become much more demanding of my sobriety.
While the argument against texting and driving spans multiple agencies including AdCouncil.org, many mobile carriers, and the FCC, your best bet in fighting the increasing amount of distracted drivers on the road is to understand there is a problem.
According to CBS, 50 percent of students text while driving and of those, half are high school kids who "text behind any wheel." The more obvious reason for the upswing in deaths of drivers texting makes more sense when you look across the bridge to the competition.
"The reality is kids aren't drinking seven days per week - they are carrying their phones and texting seven days per week, so you intuitively know this is a more common occurrence," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of the Cohen Childrens' Medical Center.
So, texting while driving has become the technological equivalent of a hard drug which seemingly instigates an urgency we've come to label as "normal" and most importantly, expected. I have lost count how many times I've said "he's probably texting!" in response to a car driving eratically. Yet it's far surpassed the point of moderation. Drivers on the road who are not fully aware of their surroundings is at a tipping point. Distractions behind the wheel have become second nature. We deal with it.
But accepting the fact that there is a multitude of distracted drivers on the road is a moot point. However, when a driver swerves onto a median and nearly flips their car all because of a smartphone at their fingertips, it's not okay. Normalcy is not tailgating a car to where the driver in front of you can't see your face from behind a smartphone through your own front window. Complacency whilst knowing the action of diverting focus from your surroundings as they pass you by at the rate of a soccer field a second is disingenuous to yourself, your passengers, and the drivers around you.
Where has the common sense gone? Why do people (and according to this report, specifically teens) feel their duty is to please the sender of an incoming notification to the detriment of their surroundings? Do we need notification regulation? Should carriers further extend their contracts to outline "acceptable" distractions?
Sure, people are dying because of their poor decisions behind the wheel, or worse, other people's poor decisions. Yes, teenagers are making up a chunk of that statistic. But the world is much, much bigger than you and them. If you don't want to hear about distracted drivers getting into accidents, rising insurance rates, or worse, families destroyed by a distracted driver, do something about it. Your retweet by Lil' Wayne or scandalous Snapchat reply can wait. I don't accept your distraction as your problem anymore - it's mine, too.
Peek out from behind your display and keep it at 10 and two. Don't be a statistic. Do something about it.
Image via IntoMobile.