A recent article in the New York Times raised a red flag by drawing attention to a new hazard we face when driving. The article states, according to Mark Rosekind, head of The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “16,225 people were killed in automobile accidents nationally in the January-to-June period, an 8% increase from a year ago. The increase in smartphones in our hands is so significant, there’s no question that it has to play some role.”
Distracted driving is the likely cause of the 8% increase in automobile accident fatalities in the first half of 2015. While the first half of the year statistics are often significantly revised, the alarm bell on driving fatalities has been rung. Although the exact cause of the increase remains to be determined with 100% certainty, it’s not a far stretch to assume smart phone usage may be the root cause.
Young adults are seemingly attached to their smart phones for social media, texting, notifications and to a lesser extent, voice and video chatting, thus it is reasonable to suspect smart phone usage as a possible underlying cause of the increase in driving accidents and the resulting fatalities. Statistics show young adults age 22 and under are dying faster than any other demographic category. Automobile fatalities are the number one cause of deaths for this age group and distracted driving is the leading cause of automobile accidents, recently surpassing drunk driving.
It is not reasonable to expect young adults to be mature enough to switch off their phones, on their own initiative, when driving. Furthermore, expecting a law designed to punish them for smart phone usage is wishful thinking. Only a technological solution like a smartphone app that automatically shuts off the phone when moving at a certain rate of speed or more will solve the problem. With Google mapping and GPS, it would be a relatively easy fix. In the meantime, the increase in driving fatalities and cell phone usage will be monitored carefully to see if there is a correlation, even if the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
Thank you: NY Times
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