Finally, after six years of trying by the Texas legislature, texting while driving is illegal as of September 1, 2017. We were almost the last state in the U.S. to restrict this dangerous practice. A $25 citation and other restrictions watered the deterrent value down, but the new law making texting while driving a misdemeanor is a good start.
Another proposed statute that would have blocked municipalities from imposing their own stricter texting while driving regulations was not passed.
Government statistics reveal that 20 percent of car accidents involve a distracted driver. That number could possible be higher as distracted drivers rarely admit to the police that they were texting, surfing the net, or dialing numbers while driving after a car wreck.
No matter how much we are told the dangers of texting and driving, people are still unable to stop. Experts on technology addiction have gone as far as to say we have become addicted to checking our phones while driving.
In a report by Forbes, David Greenfield, expert on technology addiction, says, “Every time we get an update through text, email or social media, we experience an elevation in dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy.” According to Greenfield, it has gotten to the point where we have a true dependence on our phones and the instant gratification that notifications provide.
The cell phone Goliath, Apple, has made improvements in their effort to contribute to safer driving habits. Notifications will be blocked from distracting the iPhone user while they are on the road, to reduce the number of accidents caused by people texting or talking on the phone while driving.
The unveiling of the new iPhone models was hotly anticipated. It is called the Do Not Disturb While Driving Feature and it will basically turn off your phone without actually turning it off, so no notifications of any kind will be able to get through. The phone screen will be off and you will not see any notifications appearing unless you have disabled the feature or tell the phone that you are a passenger. However, you can customize the feature to allow calls, texts from your favorite contacts to notify you even if you’re driving, but the person will have to follow up their text with the word urgent in order to get through to you.
You can set the feature so it replies to your contacts with an automated message telling them that you’re driving or the person can follow up their text with the word ‘urgent’ in order to get through to the notification barrier.
In a survey conducted by Greenfield in collaboration with AT&T, they discovered that 98% of those surveyed do agree that texting while driving is dangerous. However, in that same study, 74% of people participating admitted to texting or similar activities while driving. Similar activities include reading and sending messages, checking social media, and more.
There is nothing wrong with texting or using your phone to browse social media. However, once you get behind the wheel of a car these activities become dangerous and even deadly, and leads to reckless driving. We all compulsively check our phones, whether we are waiting to meet someone or just bored, and we have all gotten into the habit of paying attention to our phones over other things. There are steps to beat the “addiction” we have to our phones, but the first step is to pledge to be a safer driver and put the phone away the minute we get behind the wheel.