I’ve written frequently about the texting/surfing while driving epidemic (‘Texting and driving like playing Russian roulette’; ‘Time to put brakes on texting & driving epidemic’; ‘Don’t text and die’; ‘Computerized cars answer to texting epidemic’).
And, without fail, I never get a single comment on those entries.
It’s as if the life and death issue of texting/surfing while driving — clearly it is a matter of life and death, both for the selfish, short-sighted people who do it, anyone in their vehicle, and anyone in a vehicle around them — doesn’t matter to anyone.
Or maybe people who read this blog think texting/surfing while driving is irrelevant to solar-charged driving, though, it very definitely is relevant: Someone who texts/surfs while driving a solar-charged electric car is just as much of a disaster waiting to kill/maim/injure someone as a texting/surfing gasoline car driver.
So, why am I so fired up, again, about texting/surfing and driving? The lead story in today’s USA Today is about texting/surfing while driving.
Adults text & drive more than teens
This USA Today story cites some sobering, though, to me, hardly surprising statistics – I can’t drive, or even walk or bike, anywhere without seeing multiple people texting/surfing while driving.
Here’s the core “surprising” stat: More adults than teens are texting/surfing while driving, 49 percent of adults compared to 43 percent of teens, according to this survey sponsored by AT&T and USA Today.
Worse – and this is a lot worse – 60 percent of those surveyed who said they text/surf while driving, indicated they did NOT do this three years ago.
That’s clear evidence of a bunch of things. Among them:
a) the distracted driving epidemic is getting worse;
b) more and more people are becoming regularly accustomed to texting/surfing while driving, meaning it’s becoming a habit (43 percent of those surveyed who said they text/surf while driving said they do it because it’s become a habit).
Habits hard to break
Once something becomes a habit, it’s very difficult to break. In fact, once something becomes a habit – and this is what really frustrates and scares me – people come to believe it’s their God-given right to engage in behavior A, B, or C. This is true even if it clearly endangers the lives and well-being of other human beings, as is clearly the case with texting/surfing while driving.
Take talking on the phone and driving – it’s clear this does impair drivers’ response times/driver safety, as study after study after study has confirmed. But no one cares — well, a few of us do care, but we’re just ‘ranting kooks’, right?
Few things get me more hyped up than texting/surfing drivers. That’s because – way more than missile threats by North Korea, nukes in Iran, etc. – texting/surfing drivers threaten my everyday existence, and, worse, that of my 6 and 8 year-old daughters.
Why does “no one” care about the dangers of talking on the phone while driving?
Because they’ve become habituated to talking on the phone and driving. And, because they have, there ain’t no way they’re going to give up this so crucially important “right”, even if it’s clearly endangering lives.
That’s where we appear to be headed with texting/surfing while driving: So many people texting/surfing and driving so often that it becomes habituated, and no one willing to give it up because they’ve become addicted to it. (Yes, text/driving is illegal in 80 percent of states – but almost no one’s actually bothering to enforce the laws).
No matter that it clearly ends up killing thousands and injuring and maiming countless others.
Who cares, right?
It won’t happen to me
It’s never going to happen to ME, because, well, I’m such a GOOD texting/surfing while driving driver that an accident that kills or injures me and/or others isn’t going occur, right? Until, of course, it does – and then it’s too late to say, “Guess I was wrong on that one, eh?”
Few things get me more hyped up than texting/surfing drivers. That’s because – way more than missile threats by North Korea, nukes in Iran, etc. – texting/surfing drivers threaten my everyday existence, and, worse, that of my 6 and 8 year-old-daughters.
Oh, twere it only the case that those who text/surf and drive were the only ones who ended up dying and being maimed and injured in the thousands of accidents every year in the United States caused by texting/surfing drivers.
It is not so – texting/surfing drivers kill/maim/injure not just themselves, but others, who then pay an extremely high price for the selfishness and arrogance of the texting/surfing driver.
Wireless companies have blood on hands
And if there were any broader justice, wireless telephone and internet providers such as Verizon, AT&T, etc., would be being slapped with big-time lawsuits for doing almost nothing to address this deadly problem. (Yes, there are a few public serve ad campaigns out there, but compared to the hundreds of thousands of ads pushing smart phones and smart phone service, these public service campaigns are almost invisible.)
There’s no justice here either, though, there is a growing movement for victims injured in accidents caused by yapping/texting/surfing drivers to sue not only the yapping/texting/surfing driver, but to also sue those with whom they’re yapping/texting, etc.
This probably won’t get us far either. However, at least it’s enforcing something that’s so lacking in terms of the texting/surfing while driving epidemic: Personal and social accountability, accountability drunk drivers have rightly been saddled with for decades, but, which, for some reason is not being applied to texting/surfing drivers who kill, maim/injure others.
Given Americans’ stubborn tunnel vision on individual “rights” — even “rights” which clearly endanger the lives of others around them — the only way the texting/surfing while driving epidemic is likely to be successfully quelled is via 100-percent computer driven cars.
In fact, as far as I’m concerned, computer-driven cars, can’t come soon enough (hopefully it comes before I, or my family, get taken out by a texting/surfing driver!). That’s because with computer cars, we finally rid ourselves of the true distraction for 75 percent of today’s drivers: Driving!