DISTRACTED DRIVERS KILL!
By Wanda Bee
Did you know that of all cell phone related tasks – including talking, dialing, or reaching for the phone – texting while driving is the most dangerous? Studies by various authorities and the horrific accidents that have occurred over the years show that because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. For example, negative effects were seen in detecting and responding correctly to road signs, detecting hazards, time spent with eyes off the road, and (only for sending text messages) lateral position. (Hoskin, Simon: Kristie Young, Michael Regan. “ The Effects of Text Messaging on Young Novice Driver Performance) A simulation study at the University of Utah found a six-fold increase in distraction-related accidents when texting. (Hoskin, Simon: Kristie Young, Michael Regan. “The Effects of Text Messaging on Young Novice Driver Performance). A July 2010 Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll found 25% of New Jersey voters admitted to sending a text while driving, which was an increase from 15% in 2008. This increase could be attributed to drivers over the age of 30 sending text messages. More than 35% of New Jersey drivers aged 30 to 45 and 17% of drivers over 45 admitted to having sent a text message while driving in the last year, an increase of 5–10% from 2008. (http://publicmind.fdu/texting/final.pdf). Despite the acknowledgement of the dangers of texting behind the wheel, a large percentage of drivers nationwide still send text messages while operating their vehicles. This intentional and irresponsible behavior is not only banned in most states but clearly demonstrates a total disregard for human life.
Maybe the recent decision in New Jersey will have an altering impact on this seemingly obsessive and destructive behavior: texting while driving. A New Jersey State Appeals Court ruled that people who knowingly send a text message to someone behind the wheel risk being held liable in text-related car accidents. Kubert v. Best, 432 N.J. Super. 495 (App Div. 2013) Some may say this is unfair because the responsibility and duty of care is on the driver, who is solely in control on his/her decision to respond or not to respond. However, it is this argument, along with the imposition of stiffer criminal sanctions that will hopefully serve as a much needed “wake up” call to these drivers.
A word to the wise: DO NOT text message while driving. Distracted driving kills!!!