Technologies in the ways of communications and technology-based have improved greatly over the last decade. Years before technology started to become advanced and simpler, there was the old fashion technology that was in use. This was the landline connection to houses, offices, stores, and phone booths to communicate with friends and family. The mobile device was invented, and around the 1990s was when a good amount of people could afford the phones and services. With this new technology, people could communicate without the use of landlines and carry the phones with them anywhere they went. This meant that they communicate with anyone across the world. As technology improved, the methods of communication changed, there were new inventions that allowed people to communicate without the need to physically talk. Text messaging became a method of communication to send short messages that do not require calling up and talking to a person for a longer period of time. Text messaging improved and advanced over the years as phones became more technological to provide an easier way of sending texts or the phone. This then leads then to advanced phones, like the touchscreen that allowed people to text quickly. However, as texting became more advanced, the threat level of this as well increased. It created a threat to people driving on the roads, regardless of it be the person texting or the other driver safely driving their own vehicle. Texting and driving pose a threat to people’s lives regardless of it being their fault or not. Some people do not realize how dangerous it can be to text while driving.
Technology had improved over the years as more knowledge is being learned every day. The world has become a technological place where the majority of people depend on their smartphone or their car to survive just one day. Text messaged changed how phones were being used and it took it to another level. A text message or SMS is a method of communication that sends texts between cellphones — or from a PC or handheld to a cell phone” (Mashable). The first text message ever sent was by Neil Papworth, a former developer at Sema Group Telecoms in 1992. Nokia was the first-ever handset manufacture that supported user-sending of SMS text messages. Nokia was one of the most popular phone brands that most people afforded and used. In 1997, it became the first manufacture to produce a mobile phone with a full keyboard, the Nokia 9000i Communicator. Once this brand was able to take the step forward with the text messages, other phone companies started following in their footsteps as well. In the beginning, the use of SMS was very uncommon, it was still easier to communicate with someone using the phone. This was because the phones had three letters per button which made it harder to do that. However, gradually phones and networks started to adapt to the use of text messages. This then increased the use of text messages and it came more common to find between people. By 2000, the average number of text messages sent in the U.S. increased to 35 a month per person” (Mashable).
One of the most recent technological advances that have been happening is connecting one’s phone through Bluetooth in the car. This advancement has been around for at least 10 years. It has become much more common with the newer cars that also provide a screen that acts like an iPad in the car. This then creates hands-free devices that enable people to text without having the need to pick up their phones physically. However, this can be more dangerous than regular texting. “According to the National Safety Council. Approximately 26 percent of all car crashes involve a driver who was talking on the phone and some of those drivers were using a hands-free device” (Lundy Law). This shows that drivers are still distracted whether it be using the physical phone or hands-free. One of the reasons to what hands-free devices are not safe while driving is because the brain doing too much between tasks but isn’t able to do two things at once. The area of the brain that processes any moving images on the road decreases to at least one-third when the driver is on the phone. “Recent studies have found that drivers who were talking on any type of phone missed seeing 50 percent of the things around them. Consider how difficult it is to read a book or watch a television show while talking on the phone” (Lundy Law). This shows that no matter how technology grows, and it still does not increase their level of focus and concentration on the roads. Many people use the voice-over option to reply to a text rather than picking up the phone and texting while driving. Though it is believed to be a safer option, there are many studies that prove it can be more dangerous than typing texts by hand. There are many dangers that are still found consistent regardless of the Hands-free form of texting. Car crashes are the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United States and about 127 people, both children and adults die in these crashes.
The government as well as noticed that texting and driving have become a big issue. Distraction was a factor in at least 3,157 fatal crashes on American roadways in 2016, which comprised 9 percent of all fatal crashes that year, according to the National Highway Safety Administration” (NHTSA). States are using the data that they have now collected to develop and enforce legislation to reduce distracting driving. Common laws that are involved with this are to ban texting and hand-held phone use and prohibit any and all cell phone use. “Currently, 16 states prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging by all drivers. Texas’ 2017 legislation created a statewide ban on texting while driving for all drivers, making it the 47th state with such a ban” (NCSL). The states that don’t have these exact laws still have other ways to decrease the use of cell phones. They use fines instead, however, these bans aren’t the typical parking ticket prices. These fines can range from $50 to $500. Some states have increased it significantly to make sure drivers don’t do this. For example, Colorado increased their penalty for texting from $50 to $300 in 2017. This was because of the increase in accidents that were relating to texting. In addition, Arkansas refined its texting ban to including wireless interactive communication like social media. This penalty was then increased dramatically. For the first violation, it was $250 and then up to $500 for subsequent violations.
These bans can do good for these states, however, there are still citizens who won’t change their habits regardless of the laws. “In contrast, Zendrive’s distracted driving report finds that in 2018, distracted driving increased in every state except Vermont” (NCSL). This shows that regardless of these bans being enforced, drivers still do what they want and don’t think twice about their own or others’ safety. These types of behaviors can cause challenges when it comes to enforcing cell phones and the texting ban.
There is also federal action that takes place as well, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), the five-year, $305 billion federal surface transportation bill. With this, they have made many modifications related to texting and driving. One of the newest modifications is the special Distracted Driving. For states to qualify for this, they must enforce the ban on texting and any use of electronic devices for all drivers 18 and younger. The younger generation is known to be on their phones more compared to adults. In addition. The NHSTA created a new guideline in 2016 for portable device manufacturers to address the texting and driving situation. “The guidelines encourage companies to implement technologies that will reduce the potential for driver distraction, such as pairing devices to a car’s infotainment system and implementing “driver mode,” which would limit the number of applications available to the user while driving” (NCSL). This explains the main area of the guidelines the NHSTA is trying to enforce and make people more aware of the consequences of texting and driving.
New York State itself is creating awareness from adults to students who are going to start driving. They have created many events and laws for people to understand the safety issue of texting and driving is. There is a National Distracted Driving Awareness Month which takes place in April. “During the month of April, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) highlights important safety messages via press events, public service announcements (PSAs), and social media posts” (safety). In addition, in New York, in 2001, because the first state in the country to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. After recognizing that there is still more danger on the road and the increase in cell phone use, further legislation was put into law in 2009. “This section of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law also broadly bans uses of portable electronic devices while driving, such as taking photos, accessing the internet, and playing games”). However, that wasn’t the ending point of these laws. In 2011. Governor Cuomo signed a law that made texting while driving a primary offense and increased the number of license points from 2 to 3. Then in 2013, it was then increased from 3 to 5. This shows that texting while driving is taken very heavily because of the dangers it causes on the roads. Laws aren’t the only type of enforcement that can be found, there are many other different forms of awareness for texting while driving. “GTSC promotes distracted driving awareness via the development of PSAs, billboards, social media posts and variable message signs (VMS)” (SafeNY). This shows that it is a heavily thought of the issue that should be taken seriously.
Cell phone distraction accident rates are alarmingly high. Though smartphones have made it easier for people to stay connected with many people, being on the phone while driving can cause serious damage to the people on the road and cause a safety hazard. In fact, there are approximately 660,000 drivers that attempt to use their phone while driving their car. There have many different types of research that have shown texting driving has created many accidents and deaths. To support this, the Edgar Snyder website states, “The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving” (EdgarSnyder). Statistics show how often car accidents occur related to texting and driving. Research shows that answering a text takes away approximately 5 seconds of attention from the road. With that, traveling at the speed of 55 mph is enough time to travel the full distance of a football field. This gives a visual example of the distance that can be gone without looking at the road.
Teens are also vulnerable when it comes to texting and driving. In a study conducted, 94% of teen drivers are aware of the dangers of texting and driving, however, 35% of these teen drivers admit to still using their phone on the road. In an article, “21 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone” (EdgarSnyder). This shows the rate that teen drivers are involved. Teens, as said before, are more vulnerable to these types of accidents because of their reliance and addiction to cell phones.
There are many outbreaking numbers that show how easy it is to pick up the phone and then fall into an accident. “An estimated 33,000 people were injured in 2014 in crashes involving cell phone use or other cell phone-related activities, 8 percent of all people injured in distraction-affected crashes” (TextNinja). This shows that many drivers fall into the dangers of losing their focus just to look at a simple text that is irrelevant.
Texting while driving is a danger to anyone, whether it be the driver itself, or anyone in the area. Talking or texting while can be a hazard because it takes the attention away from the road. As the use of cell phones grows, the increase in car accidents relating to distracted driving increases as well. Even though many drivers from teens to adults are aware of these bad habits, they still do it. As the level of technological advances, the number of accidents relating to this will increase too.