By Jack Payton, Tires-Easy
Technology is a wonderful thing in many respects, and where the safety and wellbeing of individuals is concerned, modern technology has helped in many areas.
The combination of handheld devices and automobiles, however, is not one of the areas where technology has made us a safer people.
Our nation’s highways are more dangerous than ever.
The ubiquitous nature of cell phones, portable music players, tablets and other handheld devices in modern society has generated a culture where many people — particularly the young — are virtually tethered to their gizmos at all times.
So tethered, that they continue to use them when they engage in activities that require 100% of one’s attention, like operating a motor vehicle.
According to some recently released statistics shared by the folks at State Farm, as many as one in five drivers routinely surf the web on their smartphones while driving. And even more shocking, when the test pool is limited to strictly young drivers (18-29 years of age) that percentage skyrockets to 49%.
Think about that for a minute.
Half of the young drivers on the road today – the least experienced drivers, mind you – are updating their Facebook pages, composing their tweets and otherwise cruising the world wide web while they screech their tires and motor down the road at 65 miles per hour or navigate city traffic.
The number of people who engage in this sort of behavior has been steadily rising in recent years, despite the fact that most states have instituted severe penalties for distracted driving caused by the use of phones and other devices.
Across the country, there have been many high profile accidents and fatalities that have been directly attributed to distracted-driving, and the overwhelming majority of those surveyed indicated that they are well aware of the dangers of smart phone usage behind the wheel.
So people are well aware of the risks, and they know that there are laws against it, yet they still do it in a disturbingly increasing fashion.
What’s the solution to this growing problem? If the laws on the books today aren’t enough to serve as a deterrent, can you really expect more laws or even harsher penalties to do anything?
Laws against texting-while-driving are thought to have done little to curb the practice or to save lives and resources that are lost from avoidable accidents. Research indicates that you are 23 times more likely to be in accident if you are texting than when you keep your eyes on the road.
And there is plenty of reason to think that “webbing” (as State Farm has dubbed the practice of surfing the net, checking emails and updating Facebook statuses, etc. while driving) is even more dangerous than the occasional one-off text.
And with the trend going towards more and more mobile device use – from people of all ages – it seems that it might only be more technology, not legislation, that curbs the rising tides of accidents caused by distracted driving.
Technology likes the driverless car, perhaps?
Jack Payton covers the automotive industry for the online tire retailer tires-easy.com.