Cell Phones and Driving: A Deadly Combination

I know. I’ve opined on this previously. It troubles me — no, make that scares me shitless — when I see a driver with his or her ear glued to a cell phone merrily speeding toward the rear end of my Jeep. Although I guess I should consider myself fortunate. At least the driver isn’t texting.

And, yeah, I know. This may be generational. I’ve reached the age where walking and chewing gum can be a challenge. And I’m not convinced that constantly multitasking is the best, or even the most productive, way to spend my days.

Anyway, back to cell phones and driving.

Here’s a story that should give you pause the next time you pick up the phone while behind the wheel, “‘I Love You and I’ll try to do [all] I can to make you happy’ : Heartbreaking final text message of car crash victim.'” Here’s from the Daily Mail:

A boyfriend has published the heartbreaking final texts between him and his girlfriend before she died as she used her cell phone at the wheel of her car.

Emy Brochu, 20, was killed on January 18 when her car plunged into the back of a tractor-trailer as it merged with traffic near Victoriaville, Quebec on January 18.

Her boyfriend, Mathieu Fortin set up a Facebook page in memory of his girlfriend, whom he called ‘BB’ and to warn others of the dangers of using a cell while driving.

At the time of the accident police said they were looking into the possibility that a distraction, such as a cellphone, was the cause. An investigation has confirmed this to be the case, according to Mr Fortin.

On the Facebook page he writes: ‘This conclusion was a shock because during the tragedy, I was having a conversation with her by text.’

He has posted photographs of their exchange, along with a message urging people to pay attention while driving.Ms Brochu’s final message to her boyfriend, just before 11am, reads: ‘I also love you and I’ll try to do I can to make you happy, Mr. fort.’

And the point:

‘I hope every time you look at your cell phone while you’re driving, you think of Emy and those who loved her.

‘How can a text or an email more important than life itself? At what point is something on your phone more important than the people that you love?’

C’mon, folks. Think about it.

And not convinced there is a problem here, consider the info in this 2010 LA Times article:

You know that texting while driving is dangerous. But just how dangerous is it?

According to researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Ft. Worth, texting behind the wheel accounted for 16,141 deaths between 2002 and 2007.

The researchers arrived at that figure by analyzing nationwide traffic data from the Fatality Accident Reporting System and texting records from the Federal Communications Commission and CTIA, the wireless telecom industry group.

Crunching the numbers, they calculated that if text messaging had never been invented, there would have been 1,925 traffic fatalities per year due to distracted driving beween 2002 and 2007. But in real life, they rose from 4,611 in 2001 to 5,988 in 2007.

Some other factoids from the study:

  • The percentage of all traffic deaths caused by distracted driving rose from 11% in 1999 to 16% in 2008.
  • Distracted-driving crashes are more common in urban areas. Overall, 40% of all crashes happened in urban areas in 2008, up from 33% a decade earlier.
  • Only one-third of Americans had a cellphone in 1999. By 2008, 91% of us did.
  • The average monthly volume of text messages was 1 million in 2002. By 2008, it was 110 million.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 6% of US drivers are observed using a cell phone, a percentage unchanged since 2005,” the researchers wrote. “The increase in traffic fatalities since 2005 appears to be related to a shift in how handheld devices are used.” Nowadays, they beep at us or vibrate much more frequently – and when they do, they demand that attention be turned to the screen.

For the thousands hundreds one of two of you who will comment on this post, please wait until you get to work. You’ll have plenty of time. And unlike while driving, no distractions.

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One response to “Cell Phones and Driving: A Deadly Combination

  1. The “problem” arises when new technologies lead people to selfishly redefine their relationship to others, specifically in terms of place. This is a wordy way of saying that many people have come to assume it’s perfectly acceptable to conduct private business in public places. Supermarkets, standing in line at the post office, restaurants. Last weekend, we celebrated my wife’s birthday at a high-end French restaurant. It would have been a perfect evening, save for the woman at a nearby table who yammered at length about gall stones. The only solution seems to be calling such people out.

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