English Research Essay Check
posted by HM .
Professor Peggy Vera
5 December 2011
Keep Your Mind on the Road
There are lucky days when a driver gets way with writing a text on a U-turn, or hearing a birthday carol from a loved one on their way to work. But not all drivers are fortunate. Ever since cell phones have existed, the numbers of fatal crashes have become directly proportional to the number of cell phone subscribers each year; whether for calling or texting cell phones are the most distracting object for a driver. While the latest hands-free phones are a safer option for some; mere visual attention is not enough. The inattention from using a cell phone causes the driver to be mentally impaired, which leads to improper driving, resulting in crashes. Consequently, distracted driving is lethal. The United States government should prohibit the use of cell phones while driving to provide more safety to the roads.
Actions which kill people should be banned. The disruption caused by the usage of cell phones is deadly for drivers, other drivers and even pedestrians. Writers of Reading Eagle say that ban on cell phones while driving "is a law that is long overdue"(Cell Phone Use While Driving a Big Cause of Accidents). An issue unveils a story about a woman, from Lilitz, PA, whose parents were killed due to a driver who crossed a red light while he was on his cell phone. Jacy Good has been fighting a long and hard battle to persuade people with her story. Her aim is to create alertness of the risk of using cell phones while driving and pushes the idea for its prohibition. She wants to save families from the same agony as she felt for the loss of her loved ones. Good says: “I have to know that my parents died for a reason” (Cell Phone Use While Driving a Big Cause of Accidents). Similarly, another family suffers a loss of their teenage son in the town of Norton, Massachusetts. Due to the interruption caused by a call Jordan Cibley drove off course and crashed into a tree. His father Jerard Cibley was the one on the phone with him at the time, and last he heard was "’Oh’ and the phone went dead" (Teen Was On Cell With Dad At Time Of Crash). Similarly, a stay-at-home husband, Stephen Beers, lost his love, his young children's mother, his household's money-maker when his spouse Lesley Beer’s car crashed into an SUV. Her husband was on the phone with her when "Lesley had mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brakes; causing herself immediate death on the scene.” Their Attorney Mr. Searcy states: “This tragic death of a young mother of two small children was preventable” (Young Mother Killed in Crash Caused by Driver Distracted by Cell Phone Call). Today Stephen's three-year-old son worries that one day even his father will not come back home either. More recently, Gary D. Schuster, a non-driver, was killed by the mailbox on his driveway "when a 16-year-old teenager driver distracted by using a cell phone hit him” (Weich, Susan).
The usage of cell phones, whether for calling or texting, has undoubtedly been the most dangerous for drivers. "In 2009, 867 fatal crashes were reported to have involved cell phones as a means for driver distraction (18% of all fatal distracted-driving crashes)"(D.C. U.S. Department of Transportation). Kevin M. McDonald, an Assistant General Counsel for Volkswagen of America, Inc, includes information in his book from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research that "the use of handheld wireless devices was associated with the highest frequency of secondary task distraction-related events and was among the highest frequencies for crashes" (McDonald, Kevin M.).
Going further into how cell phone usage affects the driver. While texting may be a convenient way to communicate with someone, a poll conducted by the Nationwide website shows 66.01% of people chose texting as the most fatal activity when driving. CNET's Larry Magid reports allege that "texting took a driver's focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds--enough time...To travel the length of a football field " (Magid, Larry.). Keeping that length in mind, when there is inattention, there is a possibility that in a fraction of a second drivers go off lane, or hit the accelerator instead of the brakes, and cause risk to themselves and others. Most phones require texting to be done with fingers; that time frame to construct and think of a sentence to type does not only take the driver’s eyes off the road, but also occupies the mind, causing more danger. Moreover, whereas calling on the cell phone may not sound as unsafe as texting since the driver still has visual attention; even so there is a hazard of distraction. Words of injury attorney Joseph L. Matthews state:"being distracted by a conversation on a cell phone according to some studies, being involved in any kind of conversation... particularly an emotionally charged one... is enough to distract a driver and cause him or her to drive carelessly" (Matthews, Joseph L.).
Furthermore, many drivers believe that keeping eyes on the road is the lone thing required by drivers, and accordingly make hands-free phones their solution to maintain their visual attention. In contrast, an experiment conducted by the University of Utah's psychology professors establishes: "Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver's reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent" (Strayer, David L., Frank A. Drews, Dennis J. Crouch, and William A. Johnston). Alongside, researches by the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University reveal "Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent” (Cell Phone Study Sparks Action). With a person only left with 67% of brain activity, imagine placing children in the back seat, getting late for a meeting, a box of takeaway food on the lap; is the driver really left with any alert consciousness? Since drunk driving is unlawful so should the use of cell phones as they evidently leave our drivers with the identical span of limited attention.
The existence of cell phones causes additional distraction to drivers. "Distracted driving is a growing public safety hazard" (Wilson, F. A., and J. P. Stimpson.). Annually telephone companies come up with numerous improved plans that encourage people to use their phones even when they are driving. The latest technology has unquestionably added more amusement to the use of cell phones. Many enthusiastic people are even known to update statuses on social-networking sites while driving. Data packages, emails, and voice recognition have only made it harder for drivers to resist using their phones. Due to the increase usage of cell phones, the number of distraction-related accidents and deaths has increased significantly in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that "crash and fatality data from 2000 to 2002 show that cell phone use as a contributing factor increased 50 percent over that time" (Bartlett, Jeff.).
Countries such as the United Arab Emirates have already moved towards addressing a restriction on cell phone usage for drivers on the road. "Talking on the phone while driving in UAE can be punished by a Dh200 fine (approx. $55 USD). Careless driving is fined Dh1,000 (approx. $272 USD), 12 points against a driver's license, and up to a 30-day car confiscation from the police department" (Hassan, Hassan. ). Such fines make the road risk-free since they discourage violators.
To sum up, using cell phones while driving should be illegal; since the information given only shows that such a use causes harm. Even if there are many innovative ways of writing a text and attending calls on a hands-free phone, yet there is risk involved. Driving is not only about the body's motor functions, but also requires undivided concentration that the driver must consistently maintain throughout the roads. As a previous resident of a city in United Arab Emirates, their ban on cell phone usage while driving has really made the roads safer to drive on. Additionally taking a similar stance as United Arab Emirates, the United States can make roads danger-free and shun abuse. The risk caused by driving while using a cell phone endangers life and affects everyone in our country. There are many causes of a driver's inattentiveness: children, deadlines, emotional state, and, etcetera. With all these uncontrollable factors a driver can diminish the risk of getting further preoccupied by not using a cell phone. A ban on this activity will make drivers more vigilant on the road. Fines for the violators will encourage drivers to conscientiously make an effort to delay the use of their cell phone until they have safely parked the car.