NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — We hear it all the time on TV, on the radio, and at commander’s calls: Don’t Drink and Drive. The constant discussion and numerous initiatives, such as Airmen Against Drunk Driving, have hammered the idea home. We all know that drinking and driving is unacceptable. There is another dangerous driving practice which isn’t discussed as often, but is becoming more common and is potentially more dangerous than drinking and driving: using your cell phone while driving.
Our society is becoming more and more tech-reliant. For many people it is nearly impossible to go more than a few minutes without picking up their phones to check the weather, use a favorite app, or send a text. However, in the state of Nevada as well as on Department of Defense installations, using a phone while driving is illegal. Unfortunately, people tend to view this law as a compliance item, as opposed to a critical safety item. People assume that it’s okay as long as they don’t get caught and receive a traffic citation.
Through their Traffic Safety Culture efforts last year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that a culture of complacency exists and the prevailing attitude seems to be “do as I say, not as I do.” According to AAA, 81 percent of surveyed drivers felt that texting or emailing while driving is completely unacceptable. However, 26 percent of those surveyed admitted to sending messages while driving and 36% admitted to reading messages.
How can so many drivers understand the danger and still commit the act? The answer is simple: complacency. A complacent driver will remain satisfied with texting and driving so long as they do so without causing an accident. Their attitudes will not change so long as their needs are met. Another contributing factor may be that some drivers aren’t aware of the extent of the danger involved with texting and driving. While most drivers understand that texting and driving is dangerous, it is sometimes seen as being “dangerous” in the same light as not inspecting Halloween candy before eating, or not double-knotting shoelaces before jogging.
Recent statistics should help to highlight the seriousness of the situation:
- According to the Department of Transportation, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
- The DOT also says text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
- In an article for CNBC, Phillip LeBeau tells us that the average reaction time for a texting driver can be twice that as a driver with 0.08 blood-alcohol content.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each day more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 are injured due to a distracted driver.
Texting and driving is not a compliance issue, this is a public health issue. Choosing to text and drive puts your life and the lives of those around you at risk. There is no phone call or text message that cannot wait until you arrive at your destination or until you pull safely off the road and out of the traffic environment. Don’t let complacency trump your personal discipline. Don’t text and drive.