Texting and Driving: Enough is Enough
If you are a teen reading this, you are probably being forced by your parents to do so. For that, I am truly sorry but this message is critical and will only take 3 min.
I am a teenager and I will be the first one to say that teenagers and young adults are stupid. Really, really stupid. Drugs and alcohol are the usual culprits. However, in this day and age, social media and technology are at the forefront of the stupidity. “Between 2005 and 2012, the number of drunk driving fatalities per person decreased 28%. In the same time period, the percentage of people observed “visibly manipulating” their phones while driving increased a staggering 650%.” (Drunk vs. Distracted Driving in DC and the 50 States). Distracted driving is the new DUI and should be treated as such.
The driving age in the US ranges from 15–17 years-old based on the state. When a kid first learns to drive, it takes every fiber of their being to operate a 2 ton, high-speed machine. With the distractions that stem from friends in the car and with the inexperience behind the wheel, everything they learned about driving flies out the window. These distractions are all encompassing and when someone drives while distracted (be that from a smartphone, GPS, loud music, or unruly passengers) they are putting the lives of everyone inside and outside the car at risk.
“Distracted driving” is a term that is being used to encompass all distractions, inside and outside the vehicle, one might encounter while driving. Distracted driving is sweeping the nation, taking the lives of children, teens, and adults. Teenagers are the ones typically associated with these behaviors, but adults are also at risk.
Anytime I drive anywhere, be it a 1-hour drive or a 5-minute drive, I always see at least three people texting and driving, teens and adults. I understand where people who text and drive are coming from: Nobody has told them not to do it. Most parents today did not grow up in the era of texting and driving when they were teenagers and, as a result, they cannot draw from their own experiences to warn their children. Parents need to make a deliberate effort t0 inform their children about the dangers of texting and driving before it’s too late.
To my peers, that one “hip” grandma, and anyone else who texts and drives:
You are not “good” at texting and driving: That doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as “practicing texting and driving safely” because driving inherently requires all of your attention all of the time. Until Elon Musk creates the next wave of fully autonomous self-driving cars you are hereby forbidden from driving distracted.
Teenagers who text and drive are only reinforcing the stereotype of extreme stupidity already attributed to our generation. Texting, Snapping, Tweeting, FaceTiming, Messaging, DMing and anything else that requires the use of an electronic device while driving is not worth your attention. If your boyfriend doesn’t talk to you if you don’t respond to a text immediately, he is not worth your time. Your friends can wait for you to respond. Trust me, people can wait to see your selfies on Snapchat. It is time to put the phone away.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiled these statistics for 2015 (NHTSA Study):
- 3,477 people died from distracted driving
- 391,000 people were injured from distracted driving
- 660,000 people are using electronic devices while driving
This means 50% of people using electronic devices while driving get injured. It is up to you; it is a 50–50 bet on your life and wellbeing every time you take out your phone when you drive. You might get lucky once or twice, but the data is not in your favor.
While it is illegal in some places to text and drive, I cannot think of a lesser enforced law. I have never once seen or heard of anyone being pulled over for texting and driving. Since the government and the law enforcement have their plates full with other pressing issues, we the people, must take it upon ourselves to curb these damning statistics. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor: Silence your phone and put it away while you are driving.