It’s a dangerous time on the roads right now. Every day we drive past horrific accidents on the highway, or see them on the evening news. Sometimes the accidents are the result of an animal darting into the road, causing an unexpected reaction from a driver. Other times it’s an impaired driver. And, more and more, there’s a good chance that the driver was also distracted by their cell phones.
That’s something which has been gaining a lot of attention lately. Lots of Public Awareness campaigns being created by everyone from celebrities (Oprah’s “No Phone Zone Pledge”, for example) to revered international organizations like MADD and government approaches to the problem like banning the use of cell phones while driving, in all 10 provinces and 2 of the 3 territories in Canada. But here’s the thing: distracted driving incidents are on the rise. Teenagers, in particular, are more likely than every to pick up their cell phone to make a phone call or send a text than ever before.
In a 2011 study conducted by the United States, 31% of respondents had admitted to using their cell phone while driving. Teen texting and driving was rampant back then – and that was four years ago. In May, 2015 AT&T released a new study which showed a 40% increase in teen texting and driving. That’s a 10% increase year over year. The study also revealed one surprising fact: 17% of people now admit to takings selfies while driving.
According to the same study, in 2011 there were approximately 660,000 people using an electronic device while driving at any given daylight moment in the United States. That’s scary stuff.
The unfortunate reality is that public awareness doesn’t work. People seem to have an “invincibility mentality” that makes them think nothing bad will happen to them, and use their phone while driving anyway. Because let’s face it: we all know it’s dangerous. We all know we shouldn’t be doing it. But for some reason a lot of us make the choice to do it anyway.
Public Awareness efforts have increased dramatically over the last several years, with police agencies all across the country working together to try and curb this habit. But even though the Edmonton Police made a very large public announcement that they would be cracking down on distracted drivers, they still issued more than 500 tickets for distracted driving in a single day.
The best way to stop people, young people especially, from using their cell phones while driving is to prevent them from ever forming that habit in the first place. Find some way, whether it’s bribery or installing a permanent solution (hint: KRSTI).
Maybe then the teen texting and driving statistics wouldn’t be so high.
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