Dec 13, 2017 in Research

Texting While Driving is a Cause of Accidents

1. Introduction

Distraction is a type of inattention that occurs in cases when a driver’s attention is taken away from driving to non-driving activity. It may be caused by the interaction with sources which are inside the vehicle including communication and entertainment devices. It can also be caused by cognitive activities like being lost in the thoughts or thinking about some problems. The awareness of the inattention role in crash occurrence is of great importance in taking the crash prevention measures. Nowadays, driver distraction is one of the major causes of vehicle accidents and one of the fastest growing and the most problematic. Driving while texting and its bad effects have been widely advertised, still many drivers continue this dangerous activity. Every time when a person texts while driving, he\she loses the road concentration for minimum five seconds.

Driver distractions may be divided into three categories including manual or tactile distractions (when a driver removes his hands from the steering wheel), visual distractions (when the driver does not look at the road), and cognitive or mental distractions (when the driver is mentally distracted from the driving process). Some activities, for example reading or sending a text via a cell phone or a smart phone while driving, involve all distraction types, making driving particularly risky. All types of driver distractions can endanger the safety of passengers, drivers, and bystanders. Among the most common distraction types are texting, grooming, using a cell phone, talking to passengers, eating and drinking, reading, watching videos, using a navigation system, smoking, turning climate control, soothing the baby, and adjusting players or radio. Due to the fact that texting requires full manual, visual, and cognitive attention from drivers, it is the most dangerous and alarming distraction (What is Distracted Driving?). For the typical driver who is not texting, it takes one to two seconds to respond to the flashing light. But for the texting driver, this time is extended to three to four seconds. 

Modern society has been attacked with new technologies, such as cell phones, iPhones, tablets and other devices. With the flow of time the constant process of technology expansion has assisted society to move forward. The development of technologies gave us he opportunity to communicate faster and more efficiently. Walking can sometimes be tiresome and time consuming whereas driving lets us reach our destination much faster. Text messaging has become an efficient way of communication as when compared to phone calls, it makes he communication process faster. People who regularly use cell phones make attempts to combine text messaging and driving to communicate with friends, colleagues, family members. Text messaging and driving have become a very controversial hotly discussed issue in the modern society. Since the time of popularity of text messaging, researchers’ attention was directed into the study of the effects of texting on the driver safety. The results of the studies were not encouraging.

No doubt, the cell phones have brought a lot of conveniences to the majority of us across the world. They have made our communication much easier, but they have also become the cause of the greatest hazards. Texting which can be done through cell phones has provided a quick way for people to communicate with each other without having to call, but at the same time it increased the rate of automobile accidents. National statistics indicates that texting while driving is the cause of more accidents than driving while drunk. It is evident that texting is a convenient to communicate. People like sending messages to their family members and friends anywhere and anytime. But this convenience has caused possible dangers to the society. One of the activities which has been affected by texting is driving. Driving always requires full concentration from a person. Nowadays, texting and driving effects have been examined in a variety of researches. Despite the differences and difficulties of the studies, they seem to report the same consequence, which is that texting makes driver’s concentration on the road worse and sometimes even eliminates it.

This distraction of text messaging is alarming especially for teenagers. The statistics shows that 40% of American teens use cell phones while driving (Madden & Lenhart, 2009). It makes the crashing risk increase by 23 times, because reading or sending a message diverts the driver from the road for about 4-5 seconds. It is believed that text messaging has become a norm since 2000. It was caused by the fact that the majority of cell phone plans included a package of text messaging. Many studies link text messaging while driving to the cause of dangerous accidents because of driver distraction.

As the mobile phone popularity has grown enormously in the recent decades, it is still unclear how greatly modern communication devices and texting contribute to road accidents. What is clear is that texting behind the wheel leads to distraction which is a potential cause of car crashes. We can not predict and be sure when we are going to get a new message, retweet or e-mail. We become addicted to continually looking at our devices to find messages. In most cases it seems hard to resist checking the phones when we hear that a message pops up. But every time we check our messages or answer them, we put our lives and the lives of those who surround us at risk. Those who text behind the steering wheel have the reduced ability to keep a vehicle in a lane by 91%, compared to 35% in case they have been smoking marijuana (Texting while Driving Even More Dangerous than Driving while Drunk or High on Marijuana).

Texting while driving is prohibited by laws which state that there is a strict prohibition of using electronic devices to write, read or send messages while driving. Texting is banned in 34 states and the District of Columbia. In other states text messaging is banned for motorists and those who are under 18, as well as bus drivers. In addition, texting is banned in many cities and countries around the world (Forsyth, 2011). These laws also prohibit writing, reading and sending such types of text messages as internet based messages, emails and instant messages while driving. Most drivers are aware how dangerous texting while driving may be, but many of them still use their mobile devices being behind the wheel. Many drivers find distracted driving as a risky one, but only in cases when other drivers do it.

Thus, driving while receiving and sending a text message is a huge issue of social importance as it killed many innocent people. Many people have formed the habit of using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Texting and using electronic devices while driving is banned in many states which is believed to eliminate the existing problem of accidents. Text messaging while driving has recently been the main focus of law enforcement. Texting while driving is kind of multitasking which means that we are trying to handle two different tasks which are very demanding and attention-requiring (The Dangers of Texting While Driving). Texting takes one of the leading positions on the list of the most dangerous activities which may be done while driving. Text messaging while driving is a potentially deadly threat. Researches show that people who text while driving often pull over, change the speed unpredictably and sometimes even bring down pedestrians. In spite of the fact that young rivers are in a special risk category, experts believe that text messaging while driving threatens all age groups. It has been declared that texting while driving is six times more threatening and dangerous than drunk driving (Driving while Texting Six Times More Dangerous than Driving while Drunk).

91% of drivers agree that  they are more likely to get into an accident while texting. 76% of passenger who have been in a vehicle where the driver was texting felt unsafe. The majority of of drivers find that text messaging while driving is as unsafe as driving without a seat belt. It means that people are aware of the dangers, but in many cases they just neglect all precautions (Distracted Driving, 2010).

2          Problem

2.1       Problem statement

Texting while driving is a cause of accidents.

2.2       Motivation to study, significance of the problem, and potential benefits

Distraction of drivers is one of the main causes of accidents. When a driver picks up the phone, reads a text, and answers it, there is a loss of sight from the road which, unfortunately, often results in life threatening accidents or in rare cases a lucky escape from a life threatening accident.A split second of focus loss on the road can cost a life.Texting while driving is the cause of vision loss. The driver forgets what is going on around, he has the limited physical ability as texting requires one or even two hands to read, write or reply to messages. There are a lot of ways of distractions, from visual distractions outside and inside the vehicle, to cognitive distractions while using electronic devices. The main problem is that people do not see the real danger of texting while driving until they themselves experience a life threatening accident which was caused by attention distraction.

The reason why I am choosing the topic of texting while driving is because it seems interesting and I think that the more people know about it or hear it, the more aware of the threats and dangers they become. It is essential to know about the potential dangers of text messaging while driving as it is the cause of accidents.

The research questions are as follows:
1. What are the dangers of text messaging while driving?
2. How many and which accidents occur from texting while driving?
3. What are the consequences in cases people are caught text messaging while driving?
4. How can texting while driving be prevented?

I think that the study will be interesting for drivers who do not fully realize the threat of texting while driving. People who are carrying our any research or plan to do it in the same area, could find useful and interesting information and facts for their researches. I also hope that the statistics and hazardous fact about the accidents and consequences of text messaging behind the steering wheel will distract drivers, especially young once, from doing this activity. The work may be a kind of anti-advertising of texting while driving, making an emphasis on its deadly outcomes not only for the drivers, but also for people who surround us.

I have been among those who care about the issue of safe driving and feel that can add at least something, for example this study, to reveal the horrifying facts and convey the message of hazards. Even after the completion of the study, I will try to divert drivers from all possible distractions. There are a lot of real dangers which are connected to text messaging while driving. This research makes attempts to show that the chances of crashing the vehicle while texting are doubled.

3          Proposal

3.1       Project

The proposed study  will include the following sections:

1. Introduction. It will provide background on the researched topic, describe the focus and purpose of the paper, give an overview of what is discussed in the whole paper. It will also enable the reader to understand the objectives and motives of the work. 

2. Literature review. Since recent times, driver distraction and inattention has been one of the major concerns of traffic safety advocates. This fact has led to a number of initiatives concerning studies and data collection (Distracted Driving and Driver, Roadway, and Environmental Factors, 2010). The literature review section will provide an extensive characteristic of the studies which have been carried out in the research area and highlight the most important conclusions which were made by scientists, as well as focus on new findings.

3. Methodology. This section will describe what the researcher did, how he did it, give strategies, and diagrams.

4. Results. The purpose of our results section will be to present and illustrate the research findings. It will also give some description to help the reader recognize the most important points of the study.

5. Conclusions. This section will provide an interpretation of the research results using evidence of the experiement and generally accepted knowledge. Here we will state what we have learned or proved.

6. Bibliography. It will include the list of sources which were used in the process of carrying out a research.

In case if necessary these sections will be subdivided into subsections.

3.2       Project Objectives

It is important to our society to solve the problem of texting while driving because it will reduce the number of accidents on the road. The purpose of the research is to discover whether texting while driving is one of the main causes of accidents and to find out ways which can reduce driver distraction caused by the use of modern means of communication.

In general, society does not treat texting while driving as a safe way of communicating. Society does not view texting while driving as a safe practice. It is proven by a number of articles, reports, and laws which have been passed on the dangerous nature of the act. The research will illuminate information about the risks of texting while driving, provide ways to solve the issue, and discuss public policy issues which are relevant to the research topic.   

Thus, the main ojective of this research is not only to highlight texting as the major cause of accidents, but also to develop a plan of reducing the use of communication devices while driving. Out ultimate goal is to prevent accidents from happening as banning the practice of texting is not the only positive way to fight this constantly growing problem that has disastrous and lethal results (The Dangers of Texting While Driving). People should know that should not deprive the chances for living. Texting while driving is not worth dying or getting injured badly.Safety should be on the first place.

3.3       Limitations

Driving is a process of operating a vehicle, bus or bicycle. The process of driving requires full attention. Sometime it may seem that driving in a familiar environment is a very simple and easy task which requires minimum attention. Unfortunately, this idea is false. The dangers of distracted driving are evident. Cell phones and other means of communication and entertainment are considered to be a significant distraction for drivers. Drivers should resist being engaged in any activity that takes attention off the road even for several seconds. Sometimes even a second or two influence the driver’s ability to avoid crashes. Of special concern is the use of electronic devices which enable communication through texting. Due to the fact that texting on any device used for communication is often recognized as the riskiest behavior, such distractions as looking for the preferred music or paying attention to the personal grooming can divert a driver’s attention. The study is limited to the investigation of texting while driving as it is thought to be one of the most dangerous distractions of driver which show a very negative statistics.  

3.4       Challenges or Barriers

The most dangerous thing about texting while driving is the brain and hands are distracted and cannot quickly react in dangerous situations which may be caused by the act. There exist different types of driving distractions, but texting has proven to overweight all dangers of any other distraction. It has been studies that in the moments before the crash, drivers were typically distracted from the road for nearly five seconds as they were busy looking at their devices. At typical highway speeds this it enough time to cover more than the football field length. Despite the fact that trucks take longer to stop, texting is also dangerous for truck drivers. Rich Hanowski states that texting has its own risk universe (Richtel, 2009).

Measuring crashes which are caused by texting drivers is not an easy task as many police agencies do not collect data concerning drivers using texting as a means of communication. Texting may be thought to be a comparatively new phenomenon which has drawn attention only after several highly publicized crashes which were caused by texting drivers (Richtel, 2009).

One of the challenges of the research is insufficient amount of data. It causes some difficulties as we should have data in order to analyze and make conclusions. This barrier can be overcome with the help of survey (face-to-face and online) which will be given to drivers. As it will be an anonymous survey, we open to receive truthful results.

We have no special equipment, for example driving simulator, to identify how many drivers use texting behind the wheel and how many seconds are needed to react. But, we may take these data from the analyzed literature.

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