As we approach the New Year, if you are anything like me, you think about two things:
- Dropping the holiday weight; and
- Making a realistic New Year’s resolution.
Let’s forget about number one because I’m going to eat what I’m going to eat – nothing to discuss.
But in terms of a New Year’s resolution, I hope you consider joining me in making a New Year’s pledge not to allow my driving to be distracted by my cell phone, whether it involves checking emails, texting, or placing calls.
As a personal injury lawyer, I can tell you first-hand that at least 25% of the motor vehicle accident cases I handle are caused because the driver is more engaged with his cell phone than the safety of the users of our highways.
The statistics involving distracted drivers are alarming.
- 50% of teens surveyed admit to texting and driving (AT&T Poll, 2012)
- 40% of American teens say they have been in a car when a driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger (Pew Research Center)
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 5 seconds, the equivalent – at 55mph – of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed (VTTI)
- You are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving (VTTI)
The shocking aspect of this is that distracted driving is a GROWING trend. (CTIA) With more and more people becoming addicted to their cell phones and tablets, more and more people are put in danger.
The knee-jerk reaction to this problem is more legislation. Well, Ohio Governor John Kasich, this year, signed into law House Bill 99 which prohibits those under 18 from using, in any manner, an electronic wireless communication device while driving and prohibits adults from texting while driving, specifically.
Our legislatures, whether local, state, or federal, can enact all of the laws they want until they’re blue in the face, but it will continue to have little, if any, impact on the problem.
I believe the real answer lies outside of government.
First and foremost, we must commit to not using our cell phone to text while driving. This is my New Year’s resolution, and I hope it will be yours as well, placing us in the position to lead by example.
Second, I think the answer lies with car manufacturers and cell phone companies. They have the best opportunity to make a significant change by blocking technology in cars. Personally, in all of the vehicles owned by my family, the GPS systems cannot be programmed while the car is in drive.
This is just one example of how car manufacturers and cell phone companies can use technology to prevent danger instead of causing it. More features such as this one could facilitate a change in the way we use technology while driving.
Take a look at this commercial for the Sprint Drive First App. In this commercial, you see a teenage girl texting away, oblivious to the outside world. But suddenly, when she gets into her car, she can no longer send a text due to the technology within the app.
Texting has become so ingrained in our everyday lives that it’s almost a reflex. Using technology to block the use of cell phones in the car would take away the chance of human error and could prevent us from making a potentially deadly mistake.
New Year’s is a time for new changes, changes that will make our lives better. If nothing else, I hope you resolve to give thanks every day for the incredible gifts that God has given us.
Have a safe and happy New Year!