By Hannah Daniele, Millbrook High School Student
Illustrated by Riley Loughlin, SUNY New Paltz Student
My hands start to shake and nerves tingle throughout my body. The blaring horn sends vibrations through me, increasing in volume with every millisecond that passes, indicating my loss of time to react. Glaring fluorescent light engulfs my vision, blinding me. I attempt to steer in a different direction; however, I’m too late. My sight is condensed by the oncoming tractor trailer going at least 60 mph—a force so substantial it can shatter every window and destroy the metal that surrounds me with ease. Tractor trailers, they win every time. And all for having to see that one meaningless text message. That 4.6-second glance is not worth it. A glance long enough to ruin your life. Long enough to kill you.
A driver behind the wheel can be a weapon when distractions are constant, and phones buzzing and eyes leaving the road can lead to a deadly situation. Tragic moments like these can happen to anyone, especially new drivers. Cell phone distraction rates are alarmingly high and greatly increase the risk of fatal accidents.
Being ignorant about the use of technology while behind the wheel is eminently dangerous, not only for you but for others. Looking down at your phone for a meaningless message like “what’s up” from your bestie may kill a mother and her babies.
And as technology changes and becomes more sophisticated—and more portable—new distractions will be introduced. This is why parents need to make sure teens understand the value of engaged driving. The problem of texting and driving is here to stay.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, the issue is not just about texting. Multiple distractors—such as social media, messaging and GPS apps, and music—have the potential to draw attention away from the road.
Whether you’re a young driver or have years of experience behind the wheel, keep in mind that texting while driving isn’t worth the potential loss. Instead, pull over or wait to reach your destination before sending that next text message.
Talking or texting while driving, or checking or sending social-media posts, takes eyes and brains off the task of driving. Coupled with inexperience and lack of driving skills, cell phone use can be especially deadly for teen drivers. But with a little awareness, you can make the right decisions when you’re on the road. Driving in a state of distraction caused by cell phone use is as perilous as driving in a state of rage, and both can result in a motor vehicle becoming a weapon. Knowing about the consequences of cell phone use while driving and texting may help families manage this dangerous risk.
Next time you get into the car, setting the default “do not disturb” on your phone just may save a person’s life. █