Dan­ger­ous prac­tice

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

Get­ting/send­ing a mes­sage shouldn’t have to mean killing some­one else.

But the re­al­ity is, peo­ple are be­ing killed or hurt for those who in­sist on tex­ting on cell phones while driv­ing.

The use of hand-held cell phones, while driv­ing, has been pro­hib­ited in New­found­land and Labrador since 2002 - the first prov­ince in the coun­try to do so. Hands-free phones, though, are al­lowed.

Any­thing dis­tract­ing a driver is cause for con­cern, and the level of that dis­trac­tion must be weighed. It was a smart move eight years ago to ban the prac­tice but, as technology quickly un­folds, more dangers have emerged.

Seems the most pop­u­lar way to com­mu­ni­cate these days, es­pe­cially with the younger gen­er­a­tion, is the use of ‘text mes­sag­ing’.

Cell phone sub­scribers are opt­ing more and more to go with un­lim­ited tex­ting pack­ages, as op­posed to minute pack­ages. Aside from the tex­ting phe­nom­e­non’s de­gen­er­a­tive ef­fect on tra­di­tional so­cial and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, there’s a grave dan­ger emerg­ing as more peo­ple are opt­ing to en­gage in tex­ting while driv­ing. Yes, they are do­ing it, tex­ting while driv­ing ve­hi­cles! They are eas­ily iden­ti­fied, driv­ing with their heads down. You see them as you come up to in­ter­sec­tions fran­ti­cally punch­ing in the se­quence of key­strokes to who­ever is wait­ing on the other end of the di­a­logue.

A Vir­ginia Tech Trans­porta­tion In­sti­tute study re­vealed the av­er­age text mes­sage takes the driver’s eyes of the road for a dan­ger­ous span of time. The study in­di­cated, if a high­way driver takes his eyes off the road for even 4.6 sec­onds, it ‘equates to a driver trav­el­ling the length of a foot­ball field at 55 miles per hour with­out look­ing at the road­way’.

From that same study, it was found it was al­most five sec­onds out of a six-sec­ond win­dow the driver’s eyes were off the road and, that should be a scary rev­e­la­tion for ev­ery­one who trav­els the high­ways.

When it comes to whether or not to text while driv­ing, it should be a no-brainer. Driv­ing is a chore re­quir­ing full at­ten­tion at all times; peo­ple’s lives hang in the bal­ance.

It’s hard for po­lice to en­force this. Not only is tex­ting far more dan­ger­ous to ev­ery­one else on the high­ways, it’s far more dif­fi­cult to de­tect. Many would say the di­ver­sion of tex­ting equates to even more dan­ger than a drunken driver poses on the roads.

It re­ally boils down to the driver hav­ing the ma­tu­rity and pres­ence of mind to re­al­ize driv­ing and tex­ting is as dan­ger­ous as play­ing ‘Rus­sian Roulette’.

There are many ways, though, for the gen­eral pub­lic to pres­sure driv­ers so they will think twice about this dan­ger­ous prac­tice. There is noth­ing wrong with a pas­sen­ger telling the driver to re­frain from tex­ting. There is noth­ing wrong with a pas­sen­ger ask­ing a tex­ting driver to stop and let them out. There is noth­ing wrong with tex­ting in a proper set­ting, if that’s the way peo­ple are prone to com­mu­ni­cate these days - it’s all part of technology evo­lu­tion. And there is cer­tainly noth­ing wrong with the younger gen­er­a­tion driv­ing.

There is a lot wrong though, when peo­ple think both can be done at the same time.

Hang it up and drive. No one needs to die for a ran­dom mes­sage be­ing sent (or re­ceived) by a driver too stupid to un­der­stand the deadly weapon into which a ve­hi­cle can be trans­formed.

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