Mobile technology, specifically cell phones have many great attributes, along with some negative ones as well. Cell phones have been the catalyst for deadly car accidents, school expulsions and job resignations. Therefore it is our civic responsibility to help protect and preserve our mobile environment. There are over 260 million cell phones users in the United States.
Driver distraction presents a serious and potentially deadly danger. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices. There are other less obvious forms of distractions including daydreaming or dealing with strong emotions. While these numbers are significant, they may not state the true size of the problem, since the identification of distraction and its role in a crash can be very difficult to determine using only police-reported data. New data sources are available to provide more details on the type and presence of driver distraction.
Visual — taking your eyes off the road
Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing
Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.
Other distracting activities include:
- Using a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a PDA or navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.
Police-reported data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Automotive Sampling show that:
- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction (16% of total fatalities).
- The proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009. During that time, fatal crashes with reported driver distraction also increased from 10 percent to 16 percent.
- The portion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of the fatal crashes increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009.
- The under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes (16%). The age group with the next greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the 20- to-29-year-old age group – 13 percent of all 20-to-29-year-old drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted.
- Of those drivers reportedly distracted during a fatal crash, the 30-to-39-year-old drivers were the group with the greatest proportion distracted by cell phones. Cell phone distraction was reported for 24 percent of the 30-to-39-year-old distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
TOADD is committed to partnering with others to ensure that these cell phone users contribute to building a healthier mobile environment. To date TOADD has reached over 100,000 individuals. Through the TOADD program we are gearing to reach 80% of cell phone users.
TOADD recognizes the need for formalized training and teaching awareness programs that directly address the issues of inappropriate cell phone usage, behavior and consequences. This includes educating the public and especially our children about sexting, cyberbullying and for the young driver, distracted driving education.
The average age for receiving a mobile device is age nine or ten. TOADD believes in early education on the safe uses of mobile technology. This belief is what fuels TOADD’s mission to provide a flatform to educate and train students regarding proper cell phone use. This need includes education regarding cyberbullying and sexting.
When someone uses the Internet to threaten someone or treat them in a negative way this is known as cyberbullying. Such activity is commonly found with teenagers who allow these situations to be reinforced within social groups at school. Cyberbullying can be represented in many forms: such as a student sending out a mean mass text message, building a facebook page making fun of another classmate and spreading the web site link at school for other students to visit or sending threatening IM’s to that student. Sometimes a teenager will IM a fellow classmate and act like their friend in order to gather private information to spread around school for embarrassment. Cyberbullying is only limited by the creativity and technical ability of the bully.
Becoming increasingly popular with the use of imbedded camera cell phones “sexting” is the common name for taking nude or provocative pictures of oneself and sending them through cell phone text service to another person. Most commonly done by teenage girls for their boyfriends, they never think about the legal issues of this practice. Often times, after a breakup the receiving party may retaliate by sending the images to other friends in an attempt to embarrass the sender. Several cases have risen over the past year where teenagers have been charged for producing and sending child porn since they are underage. The image recipients are also liable for having the images on their phone and/or sending child porn. This is an increasing problem facing schools in dealing with this issue. Such images spread quickly throughout the student body creating an administrative hassle as schools must confiscate phones and work through the authorities. This can also take the form of bullying as students might take a picture of an unsuspecting classmate in the locker room and circulate it throughout the school.
Using the cell phone while driving has become more and more common and can lead to more and more accidents resulting in injury and/or death. Teaching the young driver not only the rules of the road but also proper use of mobile technology while behind the wheel will lead to more educated drivers and decrease accidents, injury and/or death.
Multi-tasking behind the wheel is a matter of degree and all drivers are responsible for determining when they need additional self-training activities. When drivers overstep this line, they become socially and legally responsible. Drivers who allow themselves to be distracted by their multi-tasking activities are increasing the risk factor for themselves and imposing that dangerous limit on others–passengers, other drivers, pedestrians. This increased risk to which others are subjected is thus similar to other driver behavior that are considered aggressive and illegal: going through red lights, failing to yield, exceeding safe speed limits, reckless weaving, drinking and driving, driving sleepy or drowsy, road rage, etc.