Driving under a new influence

Megan Showalter

In the past, when a driver on the road was driving erratically the thought might be that the person was drunk or under the influence of something, but today the thought is that they’re most likely texting or on their phone.

Stop
Texting and driving may seem safe, but the statistics don't agree Photo credit: Megan Showalter

This distraction while driving that is considered socially acceptable is causing many more accidents on the road than people are thinking.

According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million car accidents a year involve cell phone use. Thirteen percent of drivers age 18-20 involved in a car accident admit to either texting or using their phone at the time of the accident.

Though making phone calls and texting while driving are both illegal in the state of California, drivers believe that as long as they are not caught by police or highway patrol they are in the clear. Thirty-four percent of Americans say that they have texted while driving, and 77 percent of young adults believe that they can text safely while driving.

However, this is not the case. Even with laws in place, the awareness of how dangerous texting and driving is is very low.

Here in California, things that are put in place for our safety while driving are often ignored unless there is a police presence in the area. Californians are famous for the “California roll” at a stop sign and for ignoring speed limits. Drivers believe they are completely safe doing unsafe things until they themselves experience an accident and at that point, it may be too late to change.

One group in Belgium has started an awareness campaign about texting and driving where they convince drivers that in order to pass their driving exam they had to safely text and drive at the same time. The results were humorous but also eye opening. Since this campaign other groups have followed in the same vein, AT&T created a similar ad-campaign.

Texting and driving
Facts about texting and driving Photo credit: from Stop the Texts. Stops the Wrecks.

Many people may think that while this all might be true, it doesn’t apply to them. They believe they’re able to get away with it because they have a certain trick for doing it. People should never fool themselves into thinking that this doesn’t apply to them.

Texting and driving affects more than just the individual who texts. The child who watches their parent text while behind the wheel grows up to think they can do it too, and then has an accident as a teenager. Another person texting on the road thinks he or she is safe from other drivers, but the truth is that other drivers are not safe from them.

Drivers who are distracted can cause accidents and it’s not only them who are affected. The person on the other end may have to pay for the consequences as well.