It’s likely you’ve seen or heard the disturbing commercials and public service announcements about the dangers of texting while driving. The messages are broadcast often on television, radio and the internet. But the marketing campaign hasn’t been effective.
The Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) marketed that British Columbia created a new awareness campaign specifically targeting young drivers. The reason? Texting is anticipated to become “the chief cause of death behind the wheel for teens.”
Teenage drivers generally lack experience to handle tricky weather. They also may lack the defensive driving skills needed to avoid a crash, and they’re at an age where experimenting with drugs and alcohol is more prevalent. But teenage drivers’ addiction to technology may be their greatest threat.
Last year, the magazine Psychology Today listed standard definitions of addiction. The include: increased use, inability to cut back on use, engaging in the behavior despite risks and withdrawal. While the definitions predominantly pertain to chemical addiction, they also apply to the chronic use of the technology.
Consider: A few summers ago, on a family vacation. there was no cell service within about 10 kilometers of the cottage we rented. For the first two day, I was concerned. “What if someone needed us? What if something happened with the pets we had left at home in the care of a sitter? What if there was something urgent at work?
Maybe part of delivering the message that texting while driving is dangerous is understanding our own limitations. Safe and Sober Canada published an article citing statistics from Ford Motor Company. It noted “99 percent of licensed drivers said they were safe drivers. Yet, the same group admitted they regularly engaged in activities classified as “distracted while behind the wheel.”
Distracted activities include eating, drinking and cell phone use. The disconnection between cell phone use and people thinking they are safe drivers seems to relate to the “everybody but me” mentality.
In severe weather, drivers should not risk the potential of road hazards. But drivers drive anyway because “we can handle it.” Other drivers view excessive speeds as their norm because “they’re good drivers.” It’s common for drivers to believe their skills are beyond common sense.
The prevailing belief is that the average glance at a cellphone while driving takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. It also takes five seconds to drive the length of a football field. A driving tragedy can occur is less than five seconds, but many drivers believe they’re immune.
So what’s the best way to make a difference? Better driving education for children is paramount as is stressing the important better technology habits. The alternative may be a telephone call from a stranger who’s providing bad news.