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When People Can't Put Down Their Phones

Addiction is a difficult subject for many. Few people are eager to admit that they are dependent on an unhealthy habit. While alcohol and drug addiction cost many lives in car accidents every year, it is possible that cell phone addiction will grow to be equally damaging. One recent study showed that as many as 60 percent of high school students are addicted to their cell phones. Cell phone use among high school and college aged people might shock older generations. As this group begins to dominate the driving population, the number of distracted driving accidents could skyrocket.

The cell phone behavior most commonly associated with accidents is texting. Substantial evidence shows that any cell phone use, including hands-free use, represents a dangerous distraction for a driver, texting has drawn the attention of legislators and law enforcement. Texting bans are now the norm in most of the country. There is ample reason for these bans. A Virginia Tech study concluded that a driver who was text messaging faced an accident risk 23 times larger than a focused driver. 

If cell phones go beyond a convenience for some people, it is unlikely that laws banning their use will be effective. An addicted person will not put down the phone to avoid a ticket. Addicts will be unable to resist the temptation to check or send messages, post their status, tweet, check their email or otherwise use their phones while driving. This is particularly true if the laws in place are rarely enforced or have minimal penalties. A law that is only taken seriously after a fatal accident is no deterrent at all.

Source: Huffington Post, "We Need to Consider Stronger Laws on Cellphone Use While Driving," by Brad Stulberg, 27 October 2014 

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