As a teenager, I understand the urgency to pick up the phone when it rings because God forbid you miss the text from Sally who heard from Suzy who told Johnny that Bobby thought you looked super cute today. However, when this action carries over into people's driving, we must realize that this behavior has turned into a serious problem that has affected our nation: texting while driving. It is extremely dangerous and takes an obscene amount of lives each year, for an action that can easily be prevented.
Despite the warning that people shouldn't text while they drive, I was shocked to find the vast number of people that continue to commit this action. I found that, "At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving". As a new driver myself, hearing this is completely unsettling. With all of these people tempting fate while they text and drive, it is not surprising that so many lives are lost each year due to driving distracted.
In 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers. When looking at this statistic, you must realize that these 3,331 people were daughters, sons, fathers, and mothers, all of whom left behind loved ones that never expected that person's life to end in such a way. These crashes could happen to anyone, death does not discriminate. It is crazy that we can save so many lives by just putting down our phones and paying attention to the roads.
Driving a car can be a dangerous enough, let alone adding texting to it. It is said that using your phone when you drive makes you three times more likely to get into an accident. This does not only endanger your own life but also the lives of others. It is also said that, "Younger, inexperienced drivers . . . may be at increased risk; they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes." Teenagers are at a greater risk to get into a crash and it is important that they realize what can happen if they text while driving. Teens are less experienced and should be more focused on the road than a notification on the screen of their phone.
Although I know the statistics above are very shocking, I am sure that there are some people out there reading this and thinking "I'm a good multi tasker" or the typical, "this could never happen to me". However, "Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind." Committing an action like this is like skydiving without a parachute. What do you expect to happen?
In order to reduce the amount of lives lost the action required seems simple, stop texting while driving. Although I am optimistic, I realize that this is easier said than done. We need to educate people on the severity of their actions. Every student enrolled in Westfield High School's Drivers Theory Course last year had listened to a presentation of a mother whose child was killed by a distracted driver. Hearing the story, the background of the child, and the effects on the family afterward led me to think that there are thousands of more stories out there just like this. People must be educated and hear stories of the victims of these crashes, the drivers of which I am sure wish that they could go back in time and just put their phones down..
Some states are creating laws which ban texting while driving in attempt to prevent these types of accidents from occurring. However, these efforts do not seem like enough. Everyone must stop, and even though teenagers are more likely to be blamed for these types of crashes, they seem to follow the driving pattern of those before them. They need better role models to follow. How can people expect their children to drive safely if they are not doing the same? When your phone rings when you are driving, do not reach for it, whatever it is, it can wait until you can safely pull over. We all must drive safer in order to lower our chance of getting into an accident and prevent the loss of more lives of people with their whole lives ahead of them like the innocent child mentioned above.
Megan Blutfield is a student at Westfield High School.
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