Now that we’re past Halloween, let’s talk about something really, no-joking-around scary: distracted driving. Trying to do two things that require concentration or visual attention — driving and texting, for example — is never a good time management choice.
Want the heartbreaking stories?
Here's Story #1:
Alexander Heit, a University of Northern Colorado student from Boulder, passed away earlier this month from injuries he sustained after losing control of his car and flipping over while driving through Greeley.Heit’s parents released a photo of his last text; go take a look.
He was texting at the time.
Here's Story #2:
Jake Owen, a Baltimore resident, was 5 years old when he was killed three days after Christmas in 2011 as a result of a crash caused by a driver talking on his cell phone. ...
The driver who killed Jake was so distracted by his cell phone that when he hit the Owen’s car at 62 mph, he had never applied his brakes.You can read more on the Jake’s Law website, which I found via Jennifer Mendelsohn.
And for more stories, watch the incredible documentary from Werner Herzog called From One Second To The Next. It’s 35 minutes long, and it’s very much worth it.
Want the statistics?
Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, based on studies done in 2011:
69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. ...And here’s more:
In Europe, this percentage ranged from 21% in the United Kingdom to 59% in Portugal.
31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. ...
In Europe, this percentage ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal
In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. ... An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011.Furthermore, Mother Jones reports on another recent study that showed:
Driver response time was terrible regardless of whether the driver was manually texting or using Siri.
Texting drivers of any sort took twice as long to react to roadway hazards than when they were off the phone.
Texting drivers spent a lot of time not looking at the road, regardless of whether they were using a voice-to-text app.
Want the laws?
In the U.S., the laws about texting while driving vary from state to state. Alaska has the strongest penalties; texting and driving can cost you $10,000 and a year in prison. If someone is injured, the penalties are much more severe.
Want some advice?
For drivers, a man in the documentary above summarizes it this way:
Focus while you’re driving. Pay attention while you’re driving. Don’t take your eyes off the road while you’re driving. Things can happen so quick, that’ll change your life forever.And here are some thoughts from Randi Zuckerberg, which I found via B.L. Ochman:
Sometimes, I’ll get a text message while I’m driving and feel such compulsion to check it or answer it. I always have to consciously ask myself, “Is this message really so important that it could be worth it to die checking it?” “Is what I have to say to this person so important that it can’t wait 15 minutes?” ...
Of course, once I ask myself those questions, the whole thing seems ridiculously dumb. Of course there’s no message that can’t wait.If you're a passenger with someone who’s texting and driving, the folks on MetaFilter have a bunch of suggestions on what to say, but the advice all boils down to this:
Do not ride in a car with a distracted driver. You are risking your life.
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You can get it, and other products, at this online store.
Multitasking While Driving is a Really Bad Idea
This Could Save a Life