Distracted Driving: A Modern Epidemic
Technological advance accelerates every facet of the American way. Modern life operates at a steady hum, offering expedient solutions for otherwise complex tasks. Driving, since its conception in the late 1800’s, has also accelerated – both literally and figuratively, allowing transportation to encompass efficiency and comfort. In the present day, society stands at a crossroads: does technology replace common sense, or can a happy medium be established to secure the future? While a unified solution is simply impossible, common sense is readily available to solve potential issues. In the distracted driving arena, teenagers are often responsible for texting while operating a motor vehicle. Resultantly, a desperate situation arises both for teens and other motorists. Certain common-sense solutions can quickly eradicate this quasi-addiction for America’s youth. At the time driver’s education becomes available to teens (usually age 15), technological experience has already been established in the minds of children. Therefore, the incorporation of technology into life predates the ability for most to drive a motor vehicle. Early education relating to phone usage can attempt to circumvent unwanted use of mobile devices. Reaching students at a younger age and documenting the potential drawbacks of technology and driving has an exponentially higher chance of success when compared to addressing the topic at age 15 exclusively. Additionally, young motorists garner habits from earlier generations. Parents hold a unique responsibility to both educate and model acceptable behavior while driving. The technology sector is also advocating for increased options for safe driving. Modern smartphone companies, in recent software updates, are including a rarely-documented feature allowing users to enter a specialized driving mode on their smartphones. When this feature is activated, incoming calls and texts are blocked from the user’s view. Additionally, a reply message is sent as pre-customized by the user. If no customization has been made, a default message is displayed, indicating that the user is behind the wheel. These solutions are simply optional features offered for the better use of technology. However, since the average smartphone user fails to encounter this vital widget, the potential for consumer protection is lost. Additionally, the telemetry, GPS, and accelerometer technologies embedded in modern smartphones can serve as resources for reckless driving prevention. The packets of data collected in such way could be delivered to local police forces and citations generated for texting while driving. An extension of red-light cameras and other police technology, the addition of such technology could prevent further incidences and save lives. These solutions, however, hold expansive drawbacks both in the legal and consumer-protection arenas. Simply stated, the feature would have to be enabled solely by the user and full disclosure would be necessary for acceptable implementation. In summation, driving and technology are the pinnacle of American innovation. While these concepts have existed separately, now the two are beginning to merge. Therefore, safety is vital when using technology and operating a motor vehicle. It is clear that a one-size-fits-all solution is nearly impossible, but we can all incorporate common sense into our technology use and driving routines. Although one in four accidents involves phone use, negative statistics are indeed able to be improved. The true impact of common sense will never be known, but the attempt to create a safer culture is certainly worth an in-depth analysis.