Technology, laws, parental oversight essential in curbing texting while drivin
Even though most people are aware that texting while driving is a dangerous habit, people seem to have a hard time putting away their cellphones when driving. In 2011, cellphone use was cited as a factor in almost a quarter of all car accidents. Around 82 percent of teens ages 16 to 17 have cellphones, and 34 percent of them have admitted to using their phone for texting while they were driving.
A person who is texting and driving is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than someone who is not texting and driving. And that driver is also more likely to injure other drivers and pedestrians.
So what is the solution to this problem? Some states have instituted laws to curb distracted driving, but changing this dangerous behavior begins with parents setting a good example.
Many states have banned cellphone use in the car for years, and because of the increase in accidents related to texting, in recent years, many states have banned text messaging while driving. In states with these anti-texting laws, a police officer can pull over a motorist and issue a citation if the driver is texting. But enforcement of these laws is difficult, because the laws don’t necessarily ban checking email or looking at Facebook, making it difficult to prove that a driver who’s handling a phone is texting. The ultimate solution to this problem is personal responsibility.
Parents struggle with ways to keep their teens from texting and driving. Parents have resorted to monitoring their children’s cellphone use and rewarding teens for good behavior, signing “no-texting” contracts and simply laying down the law. In some cases, these solutions work, but not always.
Luckily for parents and for all concerned drivers, mobile application technology has come a long way and has allowed for programs that can prevent anyone from using a cellphone while driving. Cellphone provider AT&T offers an app called DriveMode that disables texting capabilities while driving. DriveMode automatically replies to text messages, emails and phone calls so that you aren’t tempted to respond while you are driving.
Another application called DriveSafe.ly allows users to listen to text messages, rather than read them, and the application will automatically reply to messages. Teens will also enjoy the fact that DriveSafe.ly will even be able to read the texting shorthand their friends so often use. Most importantly, however, the application allows teens and other users to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.
With the proliferation of mobile users, the number of cellphone-related car accidents will continue to increase unless something changes. That change needs to start with parents setting a good example by demonstrating safe driving habits and putting their phones away while driving. And parents should consider the use of applications that will completely curb the use of mobile devices while driving.