Distracted Driving: the Public Health Emergency

Audrey C

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Every day, 3,278 Americans die in a car crash. Every day, 3,278 Americans never get to say a farewell “I love you” before they are gone forever. Every day, the 3,278 American lives lost exemplify the neglect of our government while adding pages to the never-ending narrative of this violent epidemic: distracted driving. In this battle against the transformational turning tide of technology, it is the sole responsibility of those in power to promote safety as a basic human right. Because of this duty in serving America’s public, the United States government ought to treat distracted driving as a public health emergency, implementing meaningful legislation to address this reckless plague effectively. A handful of states have already taken action in this regard, signing revolutionary laws to lift the precedent of safety by illegalizing cell phone use and requiring seat belts in automobiles. However, this is met with the ongoing debate between individual rights and common good, as many feel their rights are infringed upon by the government stepping too close into their personal lives. At the systemic level, it must be recognized that transportation itself is almost entirely publicized, as we share roads, busses, trains, etc. Just because you are alone in a car, does not mean you are alone in the street—roads deserve legal protection and enforcement in service to the common good. That is not to undermine the value of individual action; encouragement towards one’s peers to practice safe driving of refraining from eating, texting, or inviting other forms of distraction should be included as they play an important role in change. This complex issue has numerous layers, instilling the necessity of numerous solutions. So, while it is inspiring to commit to personal restrictions while on the road, enough is enough—public policy must be prioritized and implemented immediately, before one more American life has to pay the price of our leaders’ inaction.