When texting first appeared on mobile cell phones it was considered a cool way to keep in touch with others while on the go. While the ability to instantly respond to short messages is convenient, one of the unfortunate consequences of texting is that it has become a leading cause of car accidents. In recent years, a large effort has been underway to curtail these road tragedies with laws and public awareness campaigns. Texting while driving is illegal in several states, yet, statistics show that in some areas where the practice is banned, incidents of accidents have risen. So, why do people continue to text behind the wheel? Research has been done by the University of South Florida which uncovered some answers.
Work Related Issues
A common scenario is someone gets a text message from the office while driving and feels compelled to answer the text. It doesn’t matter if the message comes while on the way to an appointment or during the lunch hour. Many people will ignore safety rules and tap out a response, even knowing full well it is illegal. They do this because of an unspoken pressure to be available to take care of work issues as soon as the need arises. Being behind the wheel makes no difference. That is why work is the leading cause of texting accidents.
The second biggest factor behind text related accidents is worry over family members. When a text comes in from a child, spouse, parent or other close family member it triggers anxiety. The main concern that causes people to forget about safety on the road in this instance is the desire to touch base quickly. Fear that it might be an emergency is the main reason people engage in text conversations in the middle of traffic. This is perfectly understandable. However, drivers have the option of pulling over to the side of the road to handle the matter. Unfortunately, too many people fail to take this simple action.
Teens and young adults are more likely to engage in texting family and friends while driving. However, all ages are guilty of doing this at one time or another. Texting while doing other activities has grown so popular that many people simply continue doing it behind the wheel without a second thought. Some teens feel they can handle a vehicle just fine and still keep up with their social networking without missing a beat. Behind this mentality is a desire to stay on top of what’s happening during every waking hour.
Some researchers studying the problem have come to the conclusion that there are drivers that text more obsessively than others. These are people that will read and send messages regardless of the warnings, or laws. They find it difficult, if not impossible, to disconnect from their compulsive need to engage in texting. It is similar to other compulsive behaviors.
What Can Be Done to Save Lives?
Simply passing laws banning texting while driving is not enough to end this troubling behavior. To avoid getting ticketed, many drivers have resorted to hiding phones further from the view of law enforcement. This makes those drivers even more dangerous, because they must resort to looking down between their knees, completely taking eyes off the road. Concerned citizens, businesses and government must work together to come up with better ways to educate the public. The cell phone companies should also get involved. Everyone knows that buckling up while driving saves lives. Now its time that everyone takes the same precautions to avoid texting car accidents.