Texting and driving takes the smart out of smartphone

Natalie Page


Opinions Writer 

People should not send text messages while they drive vehicles. The act of texting and driving places lives and property at risk, and it can easily be avoided by using a voice-based service like Siri. 

In January 2018, a new California policy on mobile phone use while driving went into effect.  

The law, found in Division 11 and Chapter 12 of the California Vehicle Code, states that drivers may not use a mobile phone while driving unless it is used hands-free.  

Policies such as this one discourage distracted driving, which can easily lead to an accident.

Since driving requires split-second response times, drivers’ attention should be on the road at all times.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed 3,450 people in just 2016. 

Texting and driving poses a similar risk to drinking and driving. When drivers drink alcohol, their vision, judgment and reaction time are impaired, and when someone texts and drives, those things aren’t even where they need to be. 

The driver’s attention is on the phone, not on the road. In the five to 10 seconds it takes to send a text, someone can cause serious damage and not realize it until it is too late. 

In 2011, the Texas Transportation Institute conducted a study on texting and driving, and the researchers found that drivers’ reaction times increased from as little as one second to as much as four seconds. 

The study, which was the first to use actual cars instead of a simulator, also found that distracted drivers lose their ability to stay in their lanes and maintain their speeds.  

Sadly, people who crave immediate gratification go through with this risky behavior, even if they know what’s at stake.

Some people who like to text and drive may defend their habits by saying they have done it for years and have yet to hurt anyone. They don’t believe that such a thing could happen to them. 

The problem with this philosophy is that they don’t realize what they are doing until it is too late.

“I think it’s irresponsible, mostly because people don’t tend to think about the consequences it could have,” said Valeria Padilla, a junior-year history major and criminal justice minor. “They think, ‘Oh, nothing has happened before,’ so that’s most likely not going to happen in the future. But it’s like that split-second where everything changes, and that’s what people don’t get.”

Before motorists send messages behind the wheel, they should ask themselves if it is worth injury or death. They should ask themselves if it’s worth placing themselves in jeopardy or killing innocent bystanders. 

Drivers should consider alternatives, such as waiting to text until they come to  a stop, pulling over if it’s urgent, or using hands-free voice recognition software. 

While Siri can be a hassle, it can’t possi bly be worse than a tragic crash.  Every  second counts while on the road, and no  message is worth losing a life.